Reading with babies from birth 

By Raising Children Network January 23, 2024 11:33 pm

Reading books, talking about pictures, sharing stories, and singing rhymes and songs help your baby’s development in many ways

Doing these activities every day helps your baby get familiar with speech sounds, words, pictures and books. This builds your baby’s early language skills and early literacy skills and helps them go on to read successfully later in life. 

Reading stories also stimulates your baby’s imagination and helps them learn about the world around them. It’s a great time for you to bond with your baby and share time together too. 

As babies develop in the first year of life, the way they engage with books changes. 

In the first 3 months, your baby might enjoy sitting on your lap and gazing at the pictures while you slowly read aloud. Your baby might pay attention to the book for only a few minutes. 

By 6 months, your baby will start to take a more active role in story time. Your baby might grab, pat, handle or even try to chew books. Your baby might communicate with you by cooing, babbling and smiling. 

By 9 months, your baby will start to engage more directly with the words and pictures in books. For example, your baby might babble while looking at pictures or try to lift up flaps. Your baby will also want to hold books and try to turn pages. 

By 12 months, your baby will love being involved in story time. Your baby can turn the book the right way up, point to pictures, and make animal noises or car and truck sounds. Your baby might even enjoy looking at books by themselves. Your baby will like to carry books around (if they’re walking) and will probably want you to read their favourite books many times. 

Tips for reading with babies 

Here’s how you can help your baby learn and develop through reading with you: 

  • Follow your baby’s lead, read slowly and spend time looking at the pictures after you read the words. This lets your baby focus on the sounds and shapes of words and also on pictures. 
  • Turn the pages slowly when you read with your baby. This shows your baby how to use a book. 
  • Point out, name and talk about familiar and new things your baby sees on the page, instead of only reading the words. For example, ‘That’s a bunny. Look. The bunny is hopping away’. 
  • Change the tone of your voice as you read. This makes it easier for your baby to notice different speech sounds, which is an important step towards learning to talk. 

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