Most of us parents are well aware of the benefits of reading to our young kids. But did you know that reading to your little one - even when they’re only a few weeks old - can benefit his or her development in numerous ways? That’s right. According to the experts, the more words your baby hears from a young age, the more developed their language skills will be when they get older. So what does this mean for parents of newborn babies?
In this week’s article, we’re going to explore the various benefits of reading to your baby from a young age. Not only that, however, but we’re going to explore how your approach to reading should change as your little one gets older and provide some tips on the best books to read to your kids. Interested? Go on and take a look.
Why is reading important?
The first question many new parents might find themselves asking is: is reading to my baby really all that important? While few of us will doubt the importance of reading to our toddlers and young children, it’s a little harder to see why reading to our newborns and young babies is important. Well, let’s take a look at some of the most important benefits.
By the time your baby reaches his or her first birthday, they will have learned the majority of sounds required to speak their native tongue. And so, exposing your baby to as many sounds as possible from an early age will help them acquire language quicker and more effectively down the road. Research shows, for example, that kids whose parents read to them from an early age have a wider vocabulary than their peers.
Alongside this significant benefit, there is also the fact that you’re continually exposing your baby to new sounds, shapes, ideas and concepts. By continually exposing them to knowledge in this way, you can help your little one develop a variety of skills. Memory, comprehension, thought. By reading to your little one on a regular basis - and encouraging him or her to actively engage with the reading - helps foster these various skills and attributes. Not only that, of course, but you’re also fostering positive associations with books and literature. When the time comes for your little one to start reading him or herself, they will already have strong, positive associations and memories relating to the act of reading.
On top of these developmental benefits, moreover, the act of reading helps foster a stronger bond between child and parent. By taking the time to regularly sit and engage with your little one, you will help create a stronger bond with your newborn or young baby - and help make them feel safe and secure.
How often should I be reading to my little one? Are there any particular tricks or approaches that I should know about?
It’s difficult to say with any certainty how long a parent should devote to this each week. One way to think of it, though, is this: the more words your little one hears a day, the better. So, if possible, try make a habit of reading to your little one every day.
Some particularly good times to read to your baby, of course, are during naptime or bedtime. Not only is this a practical time of day to set aside for your reading session, but it might also help your baby relax and drift off to sleep. Bedtime routines, as we all know, play a fundamental role in establishing good sleeping patterns, and so reading is a perfect activity to add to your routine.
There are no particular tips or tricks to know when it comes to reading aloud. In the beginning, particularly when your baby is very young, you are merely trying to familiarise your baby with your tone of voice and the rhythm of language. As they get a little older, however, you can start making the reading more engaging. Use kids books that have colours and shapes, and that use repetition. Encourage them to point out objects on the page and ask questions, even if he or she isn’t ready to respond. In order to keep your little one engaged, change the pitch of your voice and be expressive when telling the story. It’s all about engagement and interaction.
What kinds of books do you recommend?
As anyone who has walked through the children’s section of their local bookstore knows, there’s a veritable universe of children’s books out there. Although the books a parent chooses will depend largely on taste and personal preference, there are particular types of books that are more suitable for kids, depending on age. Let’s take a look.
Newborns, needless to say, are incapable of comprehending the meaning of words. Not only that, but you’ll find that you might only be able to command their attention for very short periods at a time. In these very early days, reading aloud to your baby for a couple of minutes a day will suffice. And because your baby won’t comprehend the words, it’s not really important what you read. You can read a little of your favourite magazine, or novel, or whatever else you’re currently enjoying.
As your baby gets a little older, and is more capable of engaging with the book, more tactile books are an idea. Find books that have vivid colours, and shapes, and books that have different textures on the page. There are a variety of books out there which allow your child to touch the objects and engage more actively, which is a great way to make reading more fun.
-Babies Old Enough to Laugh
When your baby gets old enough to laugh, or find certain things funny, aim to get books designed for just that. There are a variety of genuinely funny books for babies between 0-2 out there. These books will help encourage engagement and create positive associations with reading, for the future.