Reading To Babies: When Should You Start Reading To Your Baby?
Reading to your baby is one of the most important things you can do each day, with benefits that go beyond the enjoyment of stories and cuddle time. A daily reading routine helps your baby develop a strong foundation for language skills and the bonding experience of reading promotes social-emotional connections that enhance your baby's sense of security, setting the stage for healthy relationships and emotional well-being.
Reading to newborns is a seemingly simple, but profoundly impactful, activity that can lay the groundwork for a lifelong love of learning and literacy in your little one.
The Benefits of Reading to Babies
Reading to your baby provides sweet moments of togetherness for you and your baby, and the closeness and snuggling of a reading session helps create a loving and trusting relationship between the two of you. But when you read to your baby, you’re not just bonding over books: the time you spend reading to babies fosters important cognitive and language skills that impact your child’s overall development.
Daily reading exposes your baby to a rich variety of words, sentence structures, and storytelling techniques that helps build their vocabulary, sentence formation, and comprehension abilities—all of which contribute to stronger communication skills as they grow.
And a simple reading routine can have a big pay off for your child’s future. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics found that kids who are read to every day are exposed to around 78,000 words every year. That’s 1.4 million words by the time your baby is five years old! All those words have a direct impact on your baby’s future language skills and is one of the easiest ways for you to set your kid up for academic success.
When to Start Reading to Your Baby
Wondering when should you start reading to your baby? It’s never too early—you can (and should!) start from the day you bring your baby home. Creating a consistent reading routine early on establishes reading as a familiar and comforting activity in your baby’s daily life.
Start by choosing a quiet space where you can comfortably sit together, and set a specific time each day for reading, such as before naptime or bedtime, to create a predictable pattern. These baby reading sessions don’t need to be long; your baby will benefit from just 5 to 10 minutes of reading a day.
What Should I Read to My Newborn?
If you feel a little silly reading to your baby, remember that reading to newborns isn’t about them understanding or being entertained by a story. It’s about giving your baby a sense of security and closeness while laying a foundation for future literacy and learning.
Not sure what should you read to a newborn? Sturdy board books with simple, bold illustrations and high-contrast images are a great choice for reading to infants. Look for books with lots of rhymes and repetitive texts.
Can You Read to a 2-Month-Old Baby?
In the blink of an eye, your sleepy newborn will be a bright and alert two-month old who starts to respond to the sound of your voice. Make the most of story time by maintaining eye contact and varying the tone and speed of your voice as you read the story. As you read, point out words and pictures as you turn each page.
Touch-and-feel books that provide an interactive experience, like the classic Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt, are another great option to read to infants that stimulate your baby’s senses and gives them another way to engage with books and reading. As your baby gets older, you can even find books that play sounds or light up when they push a button or turn a page.
Can I Read My Book to My Baby?
If the day comes when you simply can’t take another dramatic reading of Goodnight Moon or One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, your daily story time doesn’t have to be a wash. Hearing your voice read anything is beneficial to your baby so pick up whatever novel or magazine you’re reading and start reading it aloud to your baby (just be sure to skip the parts that aren’t developmentally appropriate.)
This isn’t just a welcome change of pace for you: it exposes your baby to a variety of language and vocabulary words. You can even give your arms a rest and strap your baby into the MamaRoo® Multi-Motion Baby Swing™ so they can get all the benefits that come with reading to infants while they comfortably sway back and forth in their baby seat.
Reading to Your Baby Now Has Benefits for Life
At the end of a busy day, nothing beats snuggling up with your baby and a well-loved board book. But keep in mind that reading aloud to your baby isn’t about adding one more thing to your daily to-do list. Reading to babies should be a time for you and your baby to relax and enjoy spending time together, and as your baby grows and starts asking you to read to them, the memories of the time you spent reading together every day will be times that you both cherish.