Reading to babies has a direct impact on preschool vocabulary and listening comprehension and is directly related to reading skills in school.
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Most parents understanding the importance and benefits of reading to kids, but you might be surprised to learn that the language advantages of reading have been shown in babies as young as three months. Looking at stage-appropriate books and learning to read has direct physical effects on the brain’s wiring n the areas responsible for language and reading. Specifically, children’s exposure to books has been linked to the development of vocabulary and listening comprehension skills.
Besides simply enjoying the sound of your voice, over times babies learn to connect books with spending time with the people they love. Books can be introduced from the earliest months – it’s never too soon to start building your child’s relationship with books!
Of course, books for babies should be developmentally suitable – here are some tips for early reading selections:
From Birth to 6 Months
Goals: Strengthening the relationship between child and parent or caregiver, helping baby to focus eyes and develop
- Choose sturdy books with large but simple high-contrast pictures and bold illustrations in white, black, red, yellow, green and blue
- Show books with big and colorful but familiar objects and label them with words
- Incorporate songs and nursery rhymes into the regular “talk” times to encourage babies to acquire a feel for the specific sounds and rhythms of a language
- Place soft, cloth books with clear, defined, uncluttered pictures, in bright primary colors in your baby’s crib
From 7 to 18 Months
Goals: Language learning (sounds and words), listening comprehension and the recognition of cause and effect.
- Introduce toy books (participative books), touch-and-feel books, flap books, and talking books will develop your baby’s sense of touch and sound
- Set up a reading corner with a low bookshelf for your child to access the books by themselves
Helpful tip: Give the child a toy to hold in one hand or even another book to relieve the desire to clutch things while reading them. Take cues from your child about when and for how long to read.
A note about the author:
Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary, MD Ph.D. is the Founder of The Babyboost Institute for Early Learning and Development. Want more tips? Purchase Babyboost: 50 Critical Facts on Amazon.