A bestseller for 60+ years Pat the Bunny is a classic that all parents and kids will love. The only drawback to giving this as a gift is that someone else might have thought of it too, so the family may end up with multiple copies. If you go with this as a gift, I recommend you include a gift receipt so the parents can return it if they do get more than one copy. All bookstores carry this title, I won't be offended if you pick it up at your local independent, but please avoid the Amazon and the chain stores.
Although this book comes in many different editions, the oversize board book is my favorite, it's big and hard to destroy. The illustrations are colorful and full of contrast, perfect for young eyes! I gave this to my niece and her mom sent me a picture of her sitting in bed with her daddy at about 5 months, completely entranced with Good Night Gorilla. As she got older she was able to point to the different animals, and (my favorite) imitate the lion's roar.
3. Boynton's Greatest Hits Volume I by Sandra Boynton
Everybody LOVES Sandra Boynton. Seriously, she is the queen of the board book, the silly rhyme, AND the rhyme turned into song. Her board books are funny, educational, and the whimsical, goofy illustrations are full of my much adored contrast! If a boxed set of board books is out of your price range, consider picking up an individual title, they usually run about $6.99.
Tiger Tales makes a series of small fabric books that can be attached to the babies wrist. This not only has the advantage of the child being unable to drop or throw the book out of the stroller, but it also allows the young infant to grasp that it has some control over its world. Okay, you might think I'm crazy but I did study this in school; babies get really excited when they realize they can control things, the most obvious example is that they enjoy looking at your face and making you smile. When you attach the Cuddly Cuff to the babies arm, and they move their arm and then see the book move, they realize that they themselves are moving the book, and that makes baby happy. Admittedly this stage only lasts a couple months, but it is in the months before the baby understands what a book is, so really you are giving a double present. To see all the Cuddly Cuff options, click the link and then click on Tiger Tales, they should all pop up.
Matthew Van Fleet has a number of really cool books, but Dog is my favorite. It is the least destructible of his titles, and it appeals to the broadest age range. This is a great gift for the family that has a dog in the house. Babies will enjoy the contrast and movable parts, and as they grow older they can count the dogs and memorize the different breeds.
Christine Coirault has a series of small board books that name the shapes, numbers, colors, and more in five different languages; English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German. The graphic layout of the book is very well done, so that even adults enjoy looking and seeing the different shapes in the different languages. It's multi-lingual aspect allows this book to go much farther than the typical board book on shapes. This is a great present for families who are, or want their children to be multi-lingual. To see her other books click on the link above, and when the book pops up, click on her name.
What can be better than Sandra Boynton put to song? This book & CD is really geared towards 4-8 year-olds, but the babies will enjoy the music from the get go.
Sylvia Long is an incredible artist who has illustrated a number of gorgeous picture books for children. With this set of block books she illustrates different mother goose rhymes. The little board books are small and chunky, just like blocks, and fit neatly into a box. A toy and multiple books all in one!
This is an example of one of the many great fabric books out there. My House opens up to reveal three rooms that movable puppy can play in, complete with refrigerator doors that open up. It's an interactive book/dollhouse.
You can't think of babies without thinking of Eric Carle. He is perhaps the most popular children's illustrator today, with books published over 40 years ago that are still on bestseller lists. And the man is still going! He just came out with a new book last month. This boxed set includes his split-page board books, which I had a lot of fun with as a child, but any title of his is sure to be appreciated.