Updated: Jul 25, 2022
Most babies love to hear their parents read out loud even before they can understand a single word. After all, storytime includes some of your child's favorite things: cuddling, interesting pictures, and interesting sounds. So, you should start reading together as soon as you can.
Reading to your baby is a wonderful way to spend time together and get to know each other better. As your child grows and learns, reading will help them in many ways.
Why is it good to read to your child?
No matter how old your baby is, reading to them is a great way to strengthen your relationship. Babies love being held and getting complete attention. They feel safe and sound in your proximity.
Reading to your baby isn't just a good way to spend time together. The more words your baby hears in his first weeks, months, and years, the more likely it is that they will be able to use language proficiently in the future. Research shows that children may also do better in school if they are good at language.
One great way to help your baby learn a language is to talk to them about what you and your baby are doing throughout the day. This gets better when you read stories and look at books together. You can also teach your baby words that don't come up in everyday life.
When is the right time to start reading to your child?
It's never too soon to start reading. As soon as your baby gets home, you can make reading a regular part of the day and keep it up.
In the womb, your baby learns to recognize your voice. From the time of birth, babies love hearing you talk, sing, and read out loud. Research shows that the sooner you start reading to your baby the better the effect will be on them as they grow up.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that you should start reading to your child when they are very young as it helps kids learn language and early reading skills, and it helps them bond with their parents.
Of course, your baby won't understand anything you say to him or her at first. Your baby's hearing will be stimulated and improved by the different rhythms and sounds. This also helps you learn how to listen well in the future.
No matter how old your baby is, they will learn that books are fun if you read to them often. When you read to your baby, you can have a quiet moment together that you can both enjoy. Curling up with your baby and reading them a story is a great way to calm them down before bed.
How do I pick books for them?
First of all, when you read to your baby, it's mostly about letting them hear and understand how language flows. Even so, they'll soon pick up on the way you speak. But they may not understand a word you say, so feel free to read from your favorite book or magazine. If you like what you're reading, your baby is more likely to like it too.
In the first few months, a baby's eyes get better. They are drawn to pictures with a lot of contrast and bright colors. This is a great time to give them books that are sturdy enough for their little hands and mouths to explore.
Repetition helps your baby learn how to talk. So look for stories that use the same phrases over and over again. You can also tell your baby their favorite stories repeatedly based on their interest. Change the pitch of your voice and use different tones for each character to keep your child interested.
Even though your baby can or can't talk back yet, try to ask them questions about what you're reading.
For example, if the book has a yellow ball. Ask your child, "Do you like the red ball or the yellow ball better?" as you point to the red ball they like to play with. Go ahead and tell them the answer for now: "I think you like the red ball more than the yellow ball because you always play with it."
Look for books that have things to do in them, like pictures hidden under flaps, pop-up books, touch and feel books, etc. Your baby will probably like the sing-song rhythm of nursery rhymes. They also like the fun way words with which are put together in rhymes. This makes them easy to remember, so you can chant them while doing things like taking a bath.
What's most important is that your baby has a good time :)
More reading is better, but you don't have to finish a whole book every day. In the beginning, it's enough to just read to your baby for a few minutes here and there.
What about audiobooks, e-books, and other forms of media?
Reading from a simple e-book to your baby is the same as reading from a print book. Just remember that babies like to grab books and put them in their mouths. Because of these things, you might need to be a bit more careful with electronic versions.
Modern e-books often have a lot of bells and whistles, like buttons that you and your baby can press. These can be a lot of fun, there's nothing wrong with using them now and then. Although, research has shown that they are not as good as print books. This is because all of those fun things may keep your baby from paying attention to what is going on in the story.
It's fine to listen to an audiobook in the car or play one for your baby while you're busy. But your child will learn much more if you or your partner narrate stories. You are, after all, your child's favorite person. You could even record yourself reading a story and play it back for your baby.
In the same way, research shows that babies don't learn as much from videos as they do from being read to by their parents. Most experts say that babies shouldn't watch TV or use a computer until they are at least two years old!
If you do decide to let your baby watch TV, watch with him and keep the sessions short. Be sure to interact with your child even during screen time. Children shouldn't watch more than 10 or 15 minutes of TV at a time. Ask your baby what he's watching and what he thinks about it. Repeat any funny noises or dances to keep him entertained, and when the show is over, turn off the TV.
Should I teach my child how letters and sounds work?
When you're reading to a young child, try to enjoy the story and the time you're spending together. When you start teaching letters, sounds, and syllables too early, it can take all the fun out of reading stories.
If you read to your child often enough, when he's ready, he'll figure out how the sounds of words go together. Teaching him to enjoy reading is a much more important lesson for now.
Reading activities for babies and young children
Not sure how to tell a story to a baby? Have trouble getting a toddler who isn't very interested to read a book? These simple, age-appropriate ideas for story time can help you get your child interested in reading.
Activities for reading: Newborns
Your new baby will be happy to cuddle up with you and listen to you read. Even just the sound of your voice calms and soothes your baby. So, you can read out loud whatever you are looking at. If you're nursing your child and reading a book with your free hand, feel free to tell them some of what you're reading.
Your baby will love looking at books with simple faces, bright colors, and patterns. And they'll love to hear simple, repetitive, or rhyming text.
Activities for reading: 2 to 12 months
As your child learns more about the world around them, reading can become more interactive. About 6 months old, your child will start to understand simple words as you say them.
Provide books with things to do. Your baby will love to grab at books with soft mirrors or different textures. They will also enjoy finding the surprises in fold-out or lift-the-flap books. As their fine motor skills get better, they will be able to move the folds and flaps independently.
Try reading about things they know. Your baby will enjoy books that look like different parts of their day. Things like eating, taking a bath, playing, or going to bed.
Look through photo albums. Look through photo albums of your friends and family. Describe the people in the pictures to your child. They will be happy to see their favorite people in a book.
Let them babble and talk a lot. Let your baby look around and explore the book in their own way
Invite some participation. Ask children or family around you to help you turn the pages and point out different things.
Activities for reading: 12 to 24 months
Between the ages of 12 and 18 months, many toddlers start to understand words more. They point to the words for the colors, animals, people, and things in a book that they know. Reading helps them understand the new words and how to use them in different situations. For example, from what a rainbow is to what its colors are. It also introduces them to words like "zebra" that they might not hear every day.
Read books about things you do every day. Little kids can relate to characters who do the same things they do. Things like saying hello or goodbye, eating, taking a bath, or getting ready for bed.
Play finger games. Books with rhymes make the stories more interesting and draw the attention of young toddlers.
Choose things that people can do. Because a lot of toddlers are still getting better at using their fine motor skills. Books with interactive parts like flaps, pop-ups, and buttons may be especially fun for your young reader.
Get rhythmic. When you read, rhyme, or sing-along books to your toddler, get him or her to clap or sing along.
Use the name of your child. When your child sees a character with the same name as theirs, they will be very happy.
Add animal sounds and funny voices. Read with a lively, excited tone and a lot of commentary, asking questions and giving chances.
Activities for reading: 24 to 36 months
Start switching from books with cardboard pages to books with paper pages. Your older toddler can now turn the pages and is starting to understand how reading works as an activity.
Ask for some input. Stop the story and ask your toddler what they think might happen next. This will help them be creative.
Ask your child to read you a story. Do you have a book that your toddler knows well? Thye might want to "tell" you the story!
Bring people together. Show your toddler how stories are like things that happen in his or her life. Things like going to see their grandparents, taking turns with a toy, or taking a nap after lunch.
Make reading a part of your daily life. Come up with small things you can do over and over. Practices like letting your toddler choose a book from the shelf at the beginning of each session. At the end, you can ask the child what their favorite part of the story was and why.
Make books of your own. Make your own scrapbooks or photo albums with pictures of people your toddler knows and likes. Ask them to look through the book and tell you who they see.
Show your child that grown-ups also read. Let your toddler see you reading a book or magazine, and you can even read out loud from it. The words don't matter as much as how excited you are about them.
Reading to your baby or toddler is always a good idea, especially if you start early and do it often. Make it a regular part of reading time when you find a story or activity that gets your young reader really excited.
And don't worry if your child moves around a bit during story time. Let your child sit next to you, on you, or play on the floor nearby. Even if your child isn't looking at the book, they might still be listening.
At Daffodil Health, we help kids by giving them speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavior therapy, and special education. Through our Home therapy program, we also show parents how to help their child from the comfort of their own home.
For more info: www.daffodilhealth.com