Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tips for Reading with Your Baby

I love to read. I partially attribute this to the fond memories I have of my mom reading to me as a young child. So naturally, one of the things that I was looking forward to the most when I got pregnant was the opportunity to read to my baby. Many studies have been done on the benefits of reading to our children. Reading, even with newborns, helps promote listening skills, develops attention span and memory, promotes bonding between baby and parent, begins to develop the imagination and instills the love of books and learning.

I must admit, I had a few preconceived notions about reading to my baby before I started. For instance, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to finish an eight page board book with my little girl. Needless to say, reading with my daughter, Samantha, (who turns one today) has taught me a lot about how, when and what to read with her. Here are a few of the things that I have learned:

·         Start early. Although it may seem like your newborn is not paying attention to your reading, hearing your voice helps develop their growing brain. Plus reading can be a great bonding activity.
·         Books do not need to be long. I am looking forward to when I can read chapter books with my daughter, but right now reading in short, frequent intervals is much more beneficial and enjoyable for both parties.
·         Use board books, and keep soft paper books out of reach! I learned this the hard way when my daughter ripped a new book into three pieces.
·         Reading to a 1 month-old is much easier than reading to a 1 year-old. Right now Samantha loves to move so getting her to sit through even a short book can be a challenge. Something that I found that helps are more interactive books like touchy-feely books or books with flaps.
·         You don’t have to read the text in the book. You can make up your own story, or just describe the colors or shapes or what is happening in the picture. This helps as well when you need to shorten a book’s length. I really enjoy this because it allows me to use my imagination and be silly.
·         Find a quiet time to read during the day when your child isn’t quite as active, like right before bed or in the morning.
·         It’s ok to read the book backwards! Samantha loves to turn the pages herself and sometimes we just start in the back.
·         Have fun with your baby!

Whether your baby is a newborn or a toddler, make reading fun and enjoyable for both of you. Don’t stress if your baby loses interest and you do not finish a book. The important thing is to have fun and enjoy your time with your little one.

For additional tips, see this previous post: Helping Your Children Love Books.
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