Why Read Books to Babies
Babies love hearing the sound of your voice and the closeness that is part of being read to. Reading to your baby gives you an extra reason to snuggle and helps create a special and calming activity for bonding.
Reading books to your baby, even before they are old enough to understand the story is wonderful for their development.
Being read to helps babies learn vital communication skills such as listening. Listening to a story also helps develop concentration, memory and thinking skills like problem solving. It teaches basic concepts about reading - they learn that you read the words on the page from left to right, for example. Reading to your baby also gives you the chance to show them that reading is a worthwhile activity (you are acting as a role model for learning).
Reading to Your Baby: Some Tips
The most important part of reading to your baby is the sharing and interaction so think about baby story time as a conversation with your baby about a book.
You don’t need to read the entire book (as you do with an older child), instead you can spend your time on a favourite page. You also don’t need to read the story exactly as it is written because the focus is on the interaction between you and your baby. You can make your own comments about what is in the book. Ask simple questions like what sound does a cow make? Of course you will have to provide the answer too but your baby will love hearing you talk about the book in this way and will be learning the whole time.
If you like you can create your own story based on a book, to do this just talk about the pictures. Point them out and talk about them. You can watch which pictures (or parts of pictures) catch you baby’s attention and talk about those. You can name the things, shapes and colours that you see in the pictures.
You can help your baby learn about emotions by reading and talking about the book with different expressions that suit the pictures or story. You can use a sad, happy, loud or soft voice for example.
Given the needs of babies a few minutes of story time when they are fed and dry works best. Babies (just like toddlers) tend to have a favourite book that they want you to read again and again. This can be boring for adults but the repetition helps babies feel safe and secure. It also helps them learn from the story. Board books are often a favorite and are designed to survive being thrown, chewed and cannot be torn like paper books. Most popular books for very young children come in a board book version.
Most importantly though, make story time for your baby. The more they enjoy it the more they will learn to love reading.