Your Baby and a Book
Sharing story time with your baby or toddler can boost the little one’s emotional development. Being held on your lap and hearing your voice during regular reading sessions gives your baby a sense of stability and security.
As a habit, storytime creates a positive association with books, and that encourages a lifelong love of reading. At first your baby is more likely to try to put a book in the mouth than to turn its pages. Still, it doesn’t conclude that it’s too soon to make reading a part of your little one’s life.
Experts say exposing babies to books in the first year is crucial to their intellectual and emotional growth. In fact, research shows that reading to infants can help jump-start brain development and can even make them more receptive to learning.
It goes without saying that reading to young babies is easier said than done. While some infants sit still and listen intently, many others squirm and fuss or try to pull the book out of your hand. Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t seem to be spellbound when you first start reading to him or her. With a little practice and patience, most babies eventually learn to settle down.
Do it as a habit and watch that habit grow
Make it a habit to read to your baby. You can indulge in this as many times a day as you like. The important thing is that both baby and you are in a relaxed mood and baby is receptive to stories, such as after a nap or just before bedtime.
Hold the book about 12 inches from baby’s face so that the pictures are clearly visible. Start reading to the little one for just a few minutes before gradually increasing the time to get junior used to the idea of looking at books. Remember too, that it’s never too early to start. Even a newborn will enjoy cuddling in your arms and listening as you talk.
Even if you read only a few words at each sitting, your baby will benefit. Let your baby hold, touch and play with the book. When baby is about eight months old, you can begin to teach him or her how to turn the pages. Stock your library with baby books made of sturdy cardboard, heavy-duty cloth, or soft, non-toxic plastic. These hold up better to chewing, grabbing, and tossing.
Read to baby, anytime, anywhere!
It doesn’t matter if it’s bedtime, bath time or potty time, or if baby and you are in the park, on the train, on the bus or in the car, there is no wrong place to bring out a book for your baby. Only, please refrain from attempting this when you’re driving.
Other than that, baby can be in the crib, the pram, or even with you in the GP’s waiting room… any time is a good time for a story. You can make books part of your daily routine – take them with you to share and enjoy everywhere you go with your precious little listener.
Know when baby’s had enough
Knowing when to stop can be just as important as finding the time to share a story in the first place. Pay attention to your child’s reaction to the story, and stop whenever the little one seems to have lost interest or is not enjoying it. Remember, a baby’s attention span is not as long as yours or an older child’s, and a baby will act up when the limit of stimulation is reached. Put the book away when baby: averts his or her gaze and looks away tries to push you away closes his or her eyes or seems to be falling asleep starts to suck hands or fingers cries or fusses
But does my baby even understand what I’m reading?
Baby doesn’t have to just yet! Instead, the ultimate aim during early exposure to books is to help the little one become familiar with sounds, words, language and the value of a book. All these help to build your child’s early literacy skills for future success.