The early years of a child’s life are quite possibly the most crucial to their development. Babies are born into this world as blank slates and quickly begin soaking up information about the world about them like little sponges. Part of the information they’re taking in is language and a huge part of our job as parents is to help them take in as much language as we can, which is where reading to our babies comes into play. Reading is an important part of helping our babies learn language and make connections about the world around them and it’s never to early to start. Here are a few ideas to help you maximize your reading experience with your little one:
1. Pick baby-friendly books.
When choosing books, choose books that can be easily manipulated by little hands, thus making them active participants in reading. Cloth books, soft bathtub books, and board books are all good options. Also, be sure to select books that have bright colors and interesting images that will keep baby’s attention. Even though you may love simple and subtle illustrations, they probably won’t be quite as interesting to your baby.
2. Be expressive.
No one, not even a baby, wants to listen to a monotone reader. Using expression is a way to help your baby begin to associate meaning with words, so if a character in the book is excited, then read excitedly and if a character is sad, use a sad voice to read. Don’t worry about feeling silly by over-exaggerating words, changing up your intonation and speed will keep things interesting for Baby.
3. Be descriptive.
Naming objects and showing Baby examples of words in books is a great way to help build language connections. Point to and talk about the pictures in the book and describe what you are looking at as you would describe the scene to a person seeing something for the very first time, because it is quite likely that your baby is seeing these things for the very first time.
4. Keep books where your baby can access them.
Keeping books in baskets and on low shelves scattered throughout your home will create moments for impromptu reading. If books are locked away in cupboards your baby won’t have an opportunity to show interest in them.
5. Create a cozy reading area.
Part of the beauty of reading is that it is an activity that can take place anywhere at any time, but creating a cozy space where you and your baby can read together (on the couch, laying on the floor, snuggled in bed, etc…) will foster positive associations with reading for your little one. Babies love being cozied up next to their parents no matter what the activity they’re participating in together may be.
6. Take your time with it.
Be careful not to speed through the pages or to read too quickly. Take your time and allow baby to enjoy the words and images in books.
7. Gauge Baby’s interest.
Sometimes a baby simply won’t be interested in reading and that’s ok. If Baby is wiggly and doesn’t seem to want to read at a given moment, feel free to try a different book or a different activity altogether. Reading is fun and there’s no need to force it; wait until Baby shows interest and then use those moments.
8. Repeat, repeat, repeat!
Even though you may tire of reading the same books over and over and OVER your baby probably won’t. Repetition is an important part of learning language, so keep reading and re-reading those books.
9. Read often.
Take time to read with your little one throughout the day at any opportunity – it doesn’t have to be a big drawn-out affair.
10. Make it part of your routine.
If you’re a busy parent (Really, who isn’t?) make sure to schedule time in your day for reading to take place, otherwise it may not happen. Perhaps early morning is a good time for you, cuddled up in bed with a pile of books. For other parents perhaps working reading into a bed time routine is more practical. Whatever works for your family, just make time and read, read, read!
What things do you do when reading to your little one?
More on Disney Baby: