I have written a lot on the blog about reading aloud to children and how it’s an treasured tradition in our family. But I have never written a post specifically geared towards reading to babies. So today I am sharing some things I do with Louise!
Reading to my first baby did not come naturally to me. It often felt awkward (was she even listening??) and boring (I can’t say “Moo, La, La” one more time!). But over the years – and four children later – I have learned how to engage my baby with books in ways that is fun for the both of us, which is great because reading aloud to babies is shown to have an impact on a their overall cognitive development. Here are some tips for reading to your baby:
Tip #1: Don’t expect babies to be still.
It’s easy to read when they are infants, but once babies start find new, exciting things to capture their attention, it is hard for them to sit still and focus on an entire book. Just roll with it! Read a board book aloud while he is playing in his crib, in the bouncer, or crawling on the floor. It’s okay if he doesn’t see every illustration. You can practice sitting still and pointing out pictures at bedtime, when he’s more tired and satisfied to sit and look at illustrations.
Tip #2: Ask questions while you read.
You might feel ridiculous asking questions to a baby but it actually is way less boring than just reading a book cover to cover. And helps them to start engaging with you at a young age which is great for bonding with your baby.
So before you rush to turn the page say something like,”Do you see a star”? Oh there it is!” and point it out. Or “Oh look at that puppy dog. He doesn’t really look our Rover but he sure is cute with his white tail.”
Non-monotonous questions and pauses in your reading will give him room to (eventually) respond and engage. Even if it’s just a silly baby laugh, that is still engagement!
Tip #3: Spread reading out throughout the day.
Don’t get me wrong, bedtime is a great time to read to children. But it’s something I found I could easily push aside because by the end of the day I am sometimes just DONE.
So when Louise was an infant I had a goal of (trying) to read a short board book before every nap time. I also try to read a book in the carpool line while I’m waiting for my older children. And I always keep a few books in my bag for waiting rooms, too.
Don’t forget about mealtimes. Babies become captive audiences once they get into the high chair stage. They are strapped in and have to listen. So break out a book for your child to enjoy while he picks up finger foods (which we all know can take forever!).
Tip #4: Enlist others to help with reading
Delegate the reading! Ask grandparents to read (and tell them how important it is for babies’ brain development!). Or put on your nanny or sitter’s to do checklist. And absolutely involve you older children. If they can read, great. If not, have them point out pictures to baby while she’s in her crib or playpen! Every word a baby hears makes a difference in her brain development.
Tip# 5: Sing nursery rhymes throughout the day (or listen to them on audio).
Okay so maybe it’s not actually reading, but it will help them whenever they start to learn to read. Yes, there is actually science behind singing lullabies and nursery rhymes like Pat-A-Cake and Baa Baa Black Sheep. Nursery rhymes are shown to help phoenetical awareness and overall language development. Plus, they are like mini stories in a song!
Tip #6: Choose books you will enjoy, too!
Babies tend to like the same book again and again. Even if it might drive us crazy, repetition is good for their little brains. To avoid wanting to pull your hair out, find books that you don’t mind reading often. For example, I have read Runaway Bunny about 98 times and still never tire of it. On the other hand, Sandra Boynton books (I am sorry to disappoint!) make me crazy. Here are some more of my favorites:
What are your tips for reading to babies? Would love to know! Make sure to pin this post to remember these tips!