Do you read to your baby? It may seem silly at first to be reading a book to someone who can’t speak yet, but rest assured, your infant is listening to every word! Sharing a book with your baby, even from as early as a few months old, is an excellent way to bond with them, and it will become something that they habitually enjoy. It’s much easier to start it now while they’re just quiet and lying there, instead of at four years old when they just want to be running around!
The Benefits Of Reading To Your Baby
Studies have proven that most brain development takes place within the first three years. By taking the time to be attentive to your child’s development now, you can make a lifetime of difference. Children that are under 2 years old and watch TV, even “educational TV”, actually score lower on development indexes, therefore the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not showing babies under 2 years old any television programming. ( Don’t beat yourself up if you do this now and then: we all need a moment to ourselves occasionally! )
On the other hand, children who are read to score higher than children who are not, and the AAP recommends reading to babies from “their very first days.” Studies have consistently shown that babies who are read to, as well as babies who hear more words spoken to them in their daily lives, have larger vocabularies than babies who do not.
So even if it feels like they’re too young to be getting much out of it, and you might even feel a bit silly reading to a baby, do it regardless. You’re probably already making a habit now of narrating your daily activities to them, telling them stories, and singing to them: it’s easy to add reading books to your daily routine.
It’s an incredible bonding experience between parent and child, and before you know it they’ll be grabbing the books off of the bookshelf themselves. Now is your chance to lay the foundation for a lifetime of intellectual curiosity and a love of books. Make it a daily routine, and you’ll find that it’s a cherished experience for you and baby alike!
You’ll also be helping them with their language development; the more they hear the same words in context, repeatedly, the more their language skills will develop. Remember, babies can understand many more words than they can speak – they can even learn baby sign language! – so you’d probably be surprised how quickly they start taking in what you’re reading to them.
How Do I Read To My Baby?
There are some great books for adults out there specifically about the best way to read to babies, but the general takeaway from these books is that there should be lots of pictures, and lots of pointing to these pictures. Your natural instinct might be to point to the words; point to the pictures instead. As they get older, they’ll figure out what the words mean anyway, but if they’re still very small, you’re better off working on expanding their vocabulary.
Babies love rhyming books. They also love seeing pictures of animals, of other babies, of faces, and of familiar objects. You could even print out a baby book of pictures of your family members and the objects they regularly see, for a special gift that’s tailored just to your little one!
There’s also plenty of lift-the-flap books out there, and books with textured parts for baby to touch. (But watch out: without careful supervision, those liftable flaps will be ripped out of the book and into baby’s mouth before you know it!)
Also, there might be days when baby just isn’t in the mood to read, or doesn’t want to finish the whole book. Reading should be all about fun, so don’t push it: try again a bit later when they’re feeling a bit more receptive. Rest assured; the time will come.
Baby’s First Bookshelf Recommendations
There are some books which are considered the best of infant literature, which many adults in the English-speaking world will perhaps even remember their parents reading to them, and which your baby is bound to enjoy:
- Goodnight Moon is a classic that has spanned many generations and makes a significant part of baby’s bedtime routine as the bunny rabbit says goodnight to all the familiar objects in his home.
- Karen Katz has an adorably illustrated collection of lift-the-flap baby books, such as Buzz Buzz Baby, Mummy Hugs, Daddy Hugs and Princess Baby Night Night.
- Beatrix Potter books have been loved for more than 100 years now, but did you know about the Peter Rabbit: Naturally Better series? These books use Potter’s characters to create very simple new stories that infants can enjoy as well.
- Cedella Marley, daughter of the beloved singer Bob Marley, has created a gorgeous picture book of One Love for babies to enjoy.
- How Do I Love You? by Marion Dane Bauer is a very cute, feel-good story about how much we love our babies.
- Sesame Beginnings is a series of baby books using familiar Sesame Street characters such as Elmo.
These books are renowned as the cream of the crop when it comes to babies. You should at least try buying one of them for your baby and seeing he or she responds to them. If you notice a positive response, you will know that your baby is enjoying the process of your reading and will definitely benefit.
1. American Academy of Pediactrics:”Babies and Toddlers Should Learn from Play Not Screens”