Not only is reading with your baby a brilliant bonding experience for the both of you, it also has many benefits for baby as they grow and develop. If you want to instil the habit of regular reading into your child at an early age, keep reading to find out when to start reading to baby and how to introduce it into their routine.
When to start reading to baby
Your baby has been listening to your voice in the womb long before they entered the world, which is why they love listening to you talk, sing and read aloud too! That's why many parents like to read books to their baby's from the day they're born.
Of course, they won't understand the words that you're saying, but they'll love hearing the different sounds and rhythms, especially if it's a rhyming book. Reading to your baby will help boost their hearing and listening skills as they grow up.
As your baby gets older and you establish a regular bedtime with them, having some quiet reading time before bed helps them get used to that routine and boost your bonding time together.
Why is reading to my baby good for them?
Reading with your baby is such a lovely bonding experience for the two of you, and that quiet time of giving one another your undivided attention and cuddles before bed will help baby feel super safe and secure which will give their emotional development a real boost.
Hearing you read a range of words will also help your baby's language skills which will stand them in really good stead when they start school.
While you might be good and speaking to your baby throughout the day, or even chatting to them during bath time as they begin to understand more words, reading will bring up all sorts of new and different words they might not come across during their day, so it's a great way of expanding their vocabulary from an early age.
How should I read to my baby?
The most important part about reading to your baby in those early stages when they can't understand language is the bonding time. They'll love hearing the flow and rhythm in your voice and it'll really help them connect to you.
Most baby books are very light on the words, so you might want to read them a book that has some more words in it. You could even read your favourite book or magazine if you like!
And remember, there's no pressure to finish a book. If your baby is sleepy or simply just not in the mood, it's okay to read a few pages and put it down. Reading is supposed to be an enjoyable experience, so don't get disheartened if they don't seem to be enjoying it. Let them rest and try again tomorrow.
Another key thing that will benefit your baby is repetition. We know it can get tedious reading the same book over and over again, but you'll find that they will definitely have their favourites over time. They'll particularly love it if you do special voices for different characters as well as different noises, and you might even get some giggles if you're lucky!
After their first few months when their eyesight develops, they'll start to be fascinated by bright colours and bold illustrations, so you might want to introduce some picture books. Most of these books are nice and sturdy so are great for little hands (and possibly teething mouths!).
You don't just have to simply read the book cover to cover, ask your tot questions about the book, what they think of the photos, what they think might happen over the next page to get them really interested in what's on the page.
Interactive books with flaps or textured patches will add even more fun to reading time, so give them plenty of time to explore the page to boost their cognitive development.
What about audio books and e-books?
E-books and kindles are great when it comes to saving on book shelf space and taking books on holiday, but little hands can often get a bit too touchy feely with these, and it can be easy to lose your place in the book or for them to press something they shouldn't. For now, while they're still so young, we'd recommend sticking to a physical book that they can touch and feel as much as they like.
Baby will get much more joy out of hearing you read a story to them than they will listening to an audio book, so use this time to be close to them and read yourself if you have the time. That being said, audio books are great for playing on car journeys.