You have probably heard before that it's important to read to your child and while many people talk about reading to babies from early infancy, lots of people put off story time until their baby grows into a toddler and can sit and listen to a story. However, as a teacher and educator, I have seen firsthand the benefits of early reading. I even read to my baby when he was still in utero! While that may be one step further than you are willing to go, here are some important reasons to begin reading as early as possible.
Develop Story time Routines
Start reading simple books to your baby from birth. Part of the reason to start early is that you are more likely to develop everyday routines around story time which will continue into your baby's childhood. Routines include the time that you read to them, perhaps before nap time and where you sit together to read.
Help get them Talking
The beginnings of your baby's language skills are developing in their brain, long before your baby starts talking. Lots of research shows that the more that babies and children are read to, the more words they learn compared to those not read to regularly.
Instil a Love of Reading and Strengthen Early Literacy Skills
You show your baby that you value reading by doing it regularly. While I certainly don't recommend getting the letters out at this age, developing a love of reading is the best way to give your child a head start in their early literacy development. By watching you hold the book, turn the pages and look at pages from left to right, your little one will develop key pre-reading skills.
Strengthen Bonds with your Baby
Sitting your baby on your lap or cradling them in your arms, while you share a book together further develops that bond between parent and child. Sharing these experiences together while laughing, smiling and talking to each other, deepens bonds.
While I hope I have convinced you to start reading to your baby, here are some tips to make reading with babies and toddlers that little bit easier:
- Begin reading to them when they are fed and happy
- Make reading fun by putting on silly voices or making animal noises
- Choose repetitive or short, simple books
- Turn off the TV or any other distractions
- As your baby gets older, allow them to choose which book you read next
- Sit your baby on your knee or next to each other in a special chair
If you don't have a lot of books, or want some variation at story time with your baby, try singing nursery rhymes and songs or storytelling without a book. If your little one always chooses the same book, it is a great sign that they are enjoying books and story time, even if you are getting sick of reading the same story over and over!