7 Tips for Reading to Your BabyThe 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 around 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 too early to start. Here are 7 ideas to help you maximize your reading experience with your little one!
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1. Pick baby-friendly books
Choose books that can be easily manipulated by little hands, thus making your baby an active participant 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
- By Lauren Hartmann
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