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Health Information For Parents
An infant won’t understand everything you’re doing or why. But reading aloud to your baby is a wonderful shared activity you can continue for years to come — and it’s important for your baby’s brain.
By the time babies reach their first birthday they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language. The more stories you read aloud, the more words your baby will hear and the better they’ll be able to talk.
Hearing words helps to build a rich network of words in a baby’s brain. Kids whose parents talk and read to them often know more words by age 2 than children who have not been read to. And kids who are read to during their early years are more likely to learn to read at the right time.
When you read to your baby:
But perhaps the most important reason to read aloud is that it makes a connection between the things your baby loves the most — your voice and closeness to you — and books. Spending time reading to your baby shows that reading is important. And if infants and children are read to often with joy, excitement, and closeness, they begin to associate books with happiness — and new readers are created.
Young babies may not know what the pictures in a book mean, but they can focus on them, especially faces, bright colors, and different patterns. When you read or sing lullabies and nursery rhymes, you can entertain and soothe your infant.
Between 4–6 months:
Between 6–12 months:
Here’s a great thing about reading aloud: It doesn’t take special skills or equipment, just you, your baby, and some books. Read aloud for a few minutes at a time, but do it often. Don’t worry about finishing entire books — focus on pages that you and your baby enjoy.
Try to read every day, perhaps before naptime and bedtime. Reading before bed gives you and your baby a chance to cuddle and connect. It also sets a routine that will help calm your baby.
It’s also good to read at other points in the day. Choose times when your baby is dry, fed, and alert. Books also come in handy when you’re stuck waiting, so have some in the diaper bag to fill time sitting at the doctor’s office or standing in line at the grocery store.
Here are some other reading tips:
Books for babies should have simple, repetitive, and familiar text and clear pictures. During the first few months of life, your child just likes to hear your voice. So you can read almost anything, especially books with a sing-song or rhyming text. As your baby gets more interested in looking at things, choose books with simple pictures against solid backgrounds.
As your baby begins to grab, you can read vinyl or cloth books that have faces, bright colors, and shapes. When your baby begins to respond to what’s inside the books, add board books with pictures of babies or familiar objects like toys. When your baby starts to do things like sit up in the bathtub or eat finger foods, find simple stories about daily routines like bedtime or bathtime. When your child starts talking, choose books that let babies repeat simple words or phrases.
Books with mirrors and different textures (crinkly, soft, scratchy) are also great for this age group. So are fold-out books you can prop up, or books with flaps that open for a surprise. Board books make page turning easier for infants, and vinyl or cloth books can go everywhere — even the tub. Babies of any age like photo albums with pictures of people they know and love. And babies love nursery rhymes!
One of the best ways to make sure that your little one grows up to be a reader is to have books around your house. When your baby is old enough to crawl over to a basket of toys and pick one out, make sure some books are in the mix.
Besides the books you own, you also can borrow from the library. Many libraries have story time for babies too. Don’t forget to pick up a book for yourself while you’re there. Reading for fun is another way you can be your baby’s reading role model.
From kindergarten through third grade, kids’ ability to read will grow by leaps and bounds. Although teachers provide lots of help, parents continue to play a role in a child’s reading life.
Play is the primary way that infants learn how to move, communicate, socialize, and understand their surroundings. And during the first month of life, your baby will learn by interacting with you.
Reading aloud to your preschooler is a great way to encourage learning development and to help prepare your child for independent reading down the line.
Your newborn is taking in first sights, sounds, and smells while learning to explore the world through the senses. What are your baby’s responses to light, noise, and touch?
Reading to toddlers lays the foundation for their independent reading later on. Here are some tips.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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