Discovery Point Blog
Should I Read to My Baby?
If your little one isn’t old enough to hold a book or make sounds that resemble the letters of the alphabet, you may wonder if it’s too soon to expose them to books. We’re happy to assure you it’s not!
It’s never too early to show your child the magic of literature and the written word. Early exposure to the crucial building blocks of language can lay the foundation upon which children develop important skills in the future, including their ability to express themselves.
Why Reading to Your Baby can be Beneficial
Reading is about so much more than words on a page. When you read to your child, even if they are still in their infancy, you take a step toward providing them with the tools they need for their intellectual, social, and emotional development.
For children who aren’t yet old enough to understand stories or differentiate words on a page, being read to can still play a fundamental role in their journey of learning how to talk. Hearing new words, sounds, and ideas will expand their vocabulary and eventually help them more confidently express themselves.
In addition to exposing children to letters and words, reading is also a great way to introduce crucial concepts such as numbers, colors, and shapes. Reading helps show children how words are made up of individual sounds, and that all those marks on the page actually mean something.
Additionally, your baby will pick up on certain aspects of your vocal intonation as you read to them. The rhythm, inflection, and different tones you use will expand their emotional awareness as well as their understanding that different sounds have different meanings. When you frown because a character in a book is sad or smile when something positive happens in the story, your baby’s brain will take note.
They may even begin to imitate the sounds and facial expressions you’re making. Engaging with these new feelings and emotions can be crucial to brain development and help your child more quickly recognize patterns in the world around them.
Reading Throughout Your Child’s Growth and Development
As your baby grows and enters toddlerhood, they may begin to show their comprehension of different words by pointing to letters, colors, and shapes in a book. Continuing to read to them at this age provides reinforcement as they learn new words and the different contexts they are used in. It also enables them to start learning words for things they may not encounter on a daily basis but are crucial to their vocabulary nonetheless, whether it be “giraffe” or “dragon.”
Once your child is old enough to understand what you are reading to them, they will experience the magic of books in a new way. Falling in love with the written word through stories can create a passion for reading that lasts a lifetime.
As they begin to interact with you more while you read, feel free to veer off the page or let them take the lead. For example, you might ask them to “read” you the story, or ask them what they think about the characters and the plot. Let them take charge of flipping the pages, and allow them to go back and linger on their favorite pages as they desire. Getting comfortable with books early on is key to making that love of literature stick.
Our Tips for a Better Reading Experience with Your Baby
Reading doesn’t have to be something you do only for the sake of your child’s growth and development. It can offer an excellent opportunity to bond with your child in new ways, to form a routine that is comforting for you both, and to disconnect from what may otherwise be a hectic pace of life.
Here are our tips for making the habit of reading together stick:
- Read anything.
You don’t have to start with picture books if you don’t want to. Try reading out loud from whatever it is that you have in your hands, whether that’s a magazine or a recipe book. In the early stages of your child’s life, the words you’re reading don’t matter as much as your enthusiasm and engagement with the sounds.
- Find a compromise.
Once your child is older and has developed a few favorites among your home library, you may feel like one million reads of a single book is simply more than you can handle. To maintain your sanity, try making a deal: at reading time, you’ll read both your child’s favorite book and one that you pick. That way, they can continue to hear the stories they love and benefit from that crucial repetition while also being exposed to new potential favorites.
- Read about something familiar.
Reading about magical worlds and fantastic creatures is a great way to broaden your child’s imagination. However, reading about familiar activities can also be helpful, especially for youngsters who are just getting into a routine. Your baby may find comfort in seeing some of their everyday activities being played out on the page, from mealtime to bath time and bedtime.
It’s never too early to start reading to your baby, but it’s also never too late. No matter how old your child is, you can experience the joys of watching them discover the magic that reading offers.