We all know that reading to your toddlers is essential, but what about reading to your newborn baby? Although babies won’t understand everything you do or say, it’s never too early to start reading to them.
As well as being a relaxing and fun bonding activity for you, reading aloud to your child has many benefits for your baby’s brain development and gives them an excellent start to language development as they start to absorb information and learn about speech.
Studies have shown that by reading to your baby, you can expose them to language and communication, which helps give them an educational head start.
As babies see an image of a brown bear in a book and you name the bear, they start to make the connection between what you say and the picture of the brown bear.
The more you read the book, the stronger that connection becomes.
What are the benefits of reading to your baby?
Set the scene. You choose a book; you sit down with your baby before bed and open the vibrant and colourful pages. You begin to read, and your baby is drawn by the story. It’s wonderful! What’s even better is that your baby isn’t just enjoying the story; they’re learning.
Reality is probably a little different from that, as your baby will probably try to hold the book and chew it, but just know the benefits of reading to your newborn are the same!
Reading to your baby regularly has several benefits, including:
Reading to your baby provides a beautiful opportunity for you and your child to bond. It’s an excellent way to spend time together and get them settled before bedtime.
Raising a Book Loving Child
Reading to your baby can really help with raising a book loving child and set them up for wanting to read over having to read.
Expands your baby’s vocabulary
Reading aloud to your baby helps to expand their vocabulary and the variety of words they use. The more you read to your child, the more words they will know, and by the time your baby reaches their first birthday, they will have learned all the necessary words to speak their native language.
Stimulates your baby’s cognitive and language skills
Newborn babies benefit from having books read aloud to them. A study from December 2013 found that babies who were read to and talked to regularly scored higher in cognitive and language skills than babies who were not.
Gives babies information about the world around them
Reading to your children teaches them all about the world around them in appropriate ways for their age. Children especially enjoy books that feature children their own age doing things they do in everyday life.
Introduces new concepts such as numbers, letters, colours and shapes in a fun, educational way
Books open up a whole new world to your child and provide you with a key opportunity to teach them about numbers, colours and shapes in a fun way. Its also a great way to teach your child to share, as lots of books are centered around that.
When should I start reading to my baby?
It’s never too early to start reading to your child. Newborns, toddlers, pre-schoolers, and older children all benefit from being read to.
The best thing about reading to your child is that it doesn’t take any fancy equipment or skills – just you, your baby, and some books.
Start off reading for a few minutes at a time but do it often. Don’t worry so much about trying to finish off whole books instead focus on pages that you and your baby enjoy.
Try to read to your baby each day before naptime and bedtime are ideal as it gives a chance for you and your baby to bond. It also helps to soothe your baby.
You might find that you get a personalised books as a present as a baby keepsake, these can be great in later years as the child can interact and use their imagination as the book is about them.
How should I read to my baby?
In the early months, you should aim to read short, simple stories to your baby. Books with colourful illustrations or interactive elements are perfect as your baby can begin to explore books through touch and feel.
As your baby reaches their first birthday, you should start adding in more complex books that offer rhymes or easy phrases and ask them simple questions to stimulate their brains.
What books should I read to my baby?
The best books you can read to your baby should be simple, vibrant, feature rhymes and clear pictures. When your child is young, they just like hearing your voice so you can read almost anything to them!
As your baby gets older (around nine months) and gets more interested in looking at things and being read to, simple books with easy-to-read text and clear pictures should be your go-to.
As your baby begins to hold things, you can start to incorporate cloth and vinyl books that feature vivid colours and shapes. Books with mirrors, textures and books that make noises are also great for your baby as it allows them to interact with you and the story.
Reading is a great way to interact with your baby, by making reading fun and enjoyable you can ensure that your little one will grow up to enjoy it.
We suggest that when your baby is crawling to always have books around the toy room that they can grab and read together with you. This can also encourage your baby to crawl if they are just starting out.
Whatever you choose to read to your baby, it’s the process of reading with your little one that really matters. The benefits of reading to your child are many – from bonding to developing fundamental life skills, reading aloud to your baby is one of the most important activities you can do and is a skill your child will cherish for life.