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Many parents wonder about the benefits of reading to their baby. After all, an infant won’t understand everything you read to them. But the truth is, not only is reading to your baby a good activity that you can share with your child for years to come, but it’s also an important form of stimulation that can teach babies a lot. It can teach them communication; introduce letters, numbers, colors and shapes; build listening, memory and vocabulary skills; and give them information about the world around them.
Why should I read to my baby?
When you read to your child, they hear you using many different emotions and expressive sounds, which fosters social and emotional development. Reading also invites your baby to look, point, tough and answer questions, which also fosters social development and thinking skills. Babies’ language skills improve when they can imitate sounds, recognize pictures and learn words, all of which reading can facilitate.
But the most important reason to read to your baby may be to make a connection between books and the person they love the most: you! Spending time reading with your baby demonstrates that reading is a skill worth learning. And, if infants and young children are read to with joy, excitement and closeness, they will start to associate books with happiness.
What books should I read to my baby?
It’s important to pick a book that is appropriate for your child’s age and development:
Babies under 4 months
Young babies may not yet understand what pictures in a book mean. But they can focus on them, especially when bright colors, faces and contrasting patterns are used. Try reading or singling lullabies and nursery rhymes to entertain and soothe your infant.
Babies between 4 and 6 months
At this age, babies may start to show more interest in books. They will grab and hold the books, but because babies often explore the world with their mouths, they will likely put them in their mouth or chew them. Choose sturdy vinyl or cloth books that have bright colors and repetitive or rhyming text.
Babies between 6 and 12 months
Babies between 6 and 12 months old are beginning to understand that pictures represent objects, and they may even start showing preferences for certain pictures, pages or stories. Your baby will respond while you read by grabbing for the book and making sounds. By age 12 months, they may even turn pages with help from you, start to point at objects on the page or repeat your sounds. At this time, you can introduce board books with pictures of babies or familiar objects like toys.
When should I read to my baby?
Try to set aside some time to read with your baby every day. Right before naptime or bedtime can be a great time to read because it can help establish a routine and calm your baby before it’s time to sleep. But you can read to your baby at any point in the day.
One of the best ways to ensure your baby grows up to love reading is to have books around your house. In addition to books that your family owns, you can also take your child to a library to find new books. Many libraries even have story time just for babies.