Parents often ask, ‘when should I start reading to my baby?’ The simple answer to this questions is that is it never too early to begin reading to your baby. You can begin reading to your baby from the day they are born.
For first couple months of a baby’s life they are not oving anywhere fast so you have a captive audience for reading aloud. By 6 months they may begin exploring more and books are one of the best toys you can give them. Of course reading with a new-borns will look different from reading with your two year old but it has one important similarity.
Reading together strengthens the bond between parent and child. Books are a great tool for connecting with babies as books encourage you to take some time out from your busy day, snuggle with up together and share a special moment. There are great benefits to reading to your small baby and bonding and connection with bedtime stories is just one. Babies recognise their parent’s voices even before they are born and reading aloud to your baby can be really soothing and comforting.
Baby's love to hear the sound of their parent’s voices. Reading to your baby helps creates a love of reading from the start and helps develop a culture of reading in your family. The first few years of life is the time of most rapid brain development. It’s a time when all those neural circuits are beginning to connect. Books help baby’s brains develop. Books foster attention and listening skills and baby’s attentions will develop, page by page, book by book. This is also a time of when a child begins developing language and by reading to your baby they are hearing lots of new words that wouldn’t necessarily come up in daily conversation.
When beginning to read to young babies first consider your environment. Turn off the TV and put your phone away. Snuggle up and get cosy and begin by reading just for a minute or two. This is about connecting and sharing special time with your baby. This goal is not necessarily to read the book from cover to cover. Sometimes you might read the text but other times you might just point and name things you see in the pictures.
One of the most important things is to follow your baby’s lead and make this an enjoyable, positive experience for baby. You will know that your baby is enjoying the book as they may start to anticipate the reading routine and kick their legs and coo with excitement.
From 6 months to a year babies love to explore the books in their own way. Often the baby will want to flick through the pages quickly, chew on the book or stay on their favourite page the whole time. This is okay. Let baby be in charge. If they show interest in something talk about that and describe what you see, for example ‘l see the sock’. When possible relate what you see in the picture to real life. So in this case you could point to baby’s sock and then to your own sock to help baby make connections with the real word. Repeat the word many times for your baby. If your baby loses interest that’s okay, try again tomorrow.
From 1-2 years babies may have particular books that are their favourites. They also may begin to add the last word in a sentence from a familiar book. This is great and shows their emerging language skills. Babies learn through repetition so repeat the book over and over. Babies don’t need a big library of books; instead a few carefully selected quality books read over and over has found to be more beneficial to their development. For a full list of recommended books for babies check out our instagram talkingbuddies.ie or website www.talkingbuddies.ie