The Importance of Reading to Your Baby
Here are some good reasons to read to your baby as often as you can:
Your newborn baby is like a sponge absorbing new information at staggering rates.
Research has shown that a baby's brain is only 15% formed at birth yet by aged three the majority of the remaining 85% is formed.
Reading to your baby stimulates their senses which in turn helps their developing brains to grow.
Research has shown that reading with your baby may help them become successful in school.
Reading builds listening, memory and communication skills.
Reading helps develop your baby's concentration
Have you noticed how your voice becomes animated when you are reading to your baby?
Imagine how reassuring that is to your baby. Your baby loves to hear your voice and it calms and soothes them and helps them to feel loved and secure. Your baby has been listening to you from inside your womb, so the sound of your voice when you are reading to baby will comfort them as it is familiar.
Here are some ideas on reading with your baby that will help them develop a love for reading.
When reading to baby always choose a good time.
Take your cues from them. You want your reading sessions to be positive experiences, so choose times of the day when you want to help your baby wind down and be calm and relaxed. Before going to bed or after a busy playtime can be the best times.
Keep your sessions short and sweet.
Your baby only has a short attention span so once again you need to observe your baby as you read and take your cues from them. Your baby may want you to change books before you have even finished reading it. That is ok, it is not necessary for your baby to hear each book to the end.
Use a soft and animated sing song voice.
Your voice helps your baby to engage in the book you are reading. As your baby gets older different characters in the story can have different voices. If you need any help you could a nursery school teacher to model a great story time session for you.
Read and re-read the same books to your baby.
It is wonderful to have some favourite books. Books were never meant to be read just once. It is important to enjoy the same books over and over as this familiarity is comforting to your baby and helps to foster in them a love for books.
Make the stories your own.
You do not have to read the exact text on the page. They really are just suggestions from the author. You could look at the pictures and make up your own text and story as you go.
Make sure your baby can see the pictures.
Hold the book so your baby can see it, this includes your baby in the reading process. Pictures tell a story. Involve your baby in the story by pointing out things in the pictures and asking them questions about what they can see in the pictures. This helps the story and book come alive to your baby.
Help your baby turn the pages.
A book can be a very tactile experience.... the cloth, bath and board books for the new baby anyway. Let your baby hold the book if it is appropriate and as they get older encourage them to turn the pages of the book. Each time you turn the page say "Turn the page". You are teaching your baby about reading and how we do it.
Point to the text as you read.
You do not need to do this all the time and for every book but as your baby grows older you can do this to show them that you are reading the words. This helps prepare them to learn about the concepts of print: that reading goes from left to right, each word you say has a word in the book, the difference between letters, and words etc
Keep reading fun and enjoyable.
You may like to have a special place where you keep your books and where you read to really help reading and books hold their magic. Value this time together. Encourage lots of different people to read to your baby.
Join the library.
Libraries are wonderful places to take your baby. When my son was born I was given a gift pack by the hospital and in this pack the library gave me forms to fill in for him to get his own library card as well as a black and white contrast book. If only every hospital did this!
Make your own books to share with your baby.
Create your own book or make a family photo book. These make reading to baby an even more fun and personal experience.