The importance of reading to your baby
You might wonder if there are benefits to reading to your baby. Even though your baby can’t process what you say, he or she is using that time to begin to learn how to communicate. At a young age, your child is learning how words and sounds help express needs and wants to the outside world. Hearing you read and speak helps your child begin forming the basics of understanding.
When you read to your baby, you are helping him or her establish new concepts. As your baby listens to you read words and sees images associated with those words, he or she begins to associate the two together. By the time your baby develops the ability to speak, he or she will have a basic foundation of vocabulary. Studies have shown that children who experience books early score higher on verbal tests and develop a wider vocabulary. By reading to your baby, you can help give them a head start for the rest of his or her life.
Finding the right books
Choosing the right books when reading to your baby depends on the age of your child and their mental capabilities. At a young age, the best choices are books that feature large pictures and repetitive words. If they’re small enough for your child to grab, that works even better. During the first year of their lives, babies often use their hands and mouths to explore the world around them. Many books that are perfect for babies are often published on cardboard, allowing them to withstand babies’ attempts to eat them.
If your child is still too young to reach out and grab many objects, feel free to read books that you find interesting. The words don’t really matter to your child at that age. He or she is more interested in being close to you and hearing your voice. The importance of reading to babies at that age is in exposing your children to the sound of your voice. When they can hear you speak, that’s a great start to their development.
Reading to toddlers
If your baby has passed the age of 12 months, odds are, he or she is ready to start picking up a few concepts from what you’re reading. Chances are, your toddler can understand a few words and a simple sentence or two. This gives you an opportunity to expand on what he or she already knows. For example, when you complete a page, you can point to a picture on the page and ask your child what the picture is. This is another instance in which repetition can really help. If you take the time to read the same book to your child multiple times, it will help him or her begin to learn what those words mean. He or she might even begin to anticipate when things occur in a story and react accordingly, showing you how much progress he or she is making.
Reading to your baby is a gift
Regardless of your child’s age, reading to your baby helps increase the bond between parent and child and helps foster a love for books. Reading will be a large part of your child’s learning experience throughout his or her life. By starting early, you can ensure that your child develops a love of learning and a love for the written word. Encouraging reading as early as possible can help develop good habits that will lead to future success. Additionally, the close bond between parent and child begins very early and reading is an excellent to begin this process.