Reading books to babies?! YES! You can and should read books with your babies. Here are 10 tips for reading books with babies.
1. Choose picture books with bright, colorful pictures
Babies’ eyes are still developing. They are not able to see pictures, objects, or people the way we see them. However, they are so interested in bright, colorful designs and pictures. Reading books with colorful illustrations will capture your baby’s interest and support cognitive development.
2. Take a picture walk
Take your baby on a picture walk through the book. Don’t read the story. Look at the pictures. Point to the pictures. Label what you and your baby are looking at. You can label the actual objects, colors, size, etc.
3. Let your child explore
If you child is old enough to grab at the pages or even grab at the pictures on a page, follow his/her lead. If they grab to turn the page, help them turn it. If they grab at a picture on the page, start talking about it. If your child grabs the whole book, help him/her look through it…
4. “Read” the book
You can always read word for word the written story in a book. I recommend doing that as those authors are talented and creative people. However, I often make my own story when reading through the book with little kiddos.
5. Make sounds
How many little babies love to make sounds with their mouths?! I mean our little ones are classic noise makers and I LOVE it! Use their strength to include them in the “reading”. For example, when reading a book that has a car or truck, make a rumble sound with you mouth. Get your baby’s attention and make the sound again pausing after to encourage your little one to copy and make the sound back.
6. Get moving
Children learn so much when movements are associated with new skills. It is never too early to start moving…you just modify based on your baby’s ability. Referring back to the car or truck I mentioned in #5…think of a simple movement that can go along with it that you can do with you baby. Maybe it is a horn honking move or a whole body wiggle for a rumbling sound.
7. Look for books with texture
Around 3 months (some before and some after), babies start to take interest in different textures. There are great books out there with different textures throughout the story. This adds a whole new level of conversation to the book.
8. Books with repetition
Babies love repetition. Reading a book that has a repeated phrase throughout the story allows your baby to hear those words multiple times. You might find that you baby starts to make sounds during the repeated phrase.
9. Have books easily available
A fabulous SLP shared with me that when her children were little, she had a basket in the living room filled with children’s books. Such a great idea. The books are easily accessible for adults to grab to share with the baby, and once the baby gets more mobile, he/she can grab the books independently!
10. Repeat a favorite book
Do you notice your baby having a favorite book or even a favorite page in a book? My little guy loves the last page of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (the page with the brightly colored butterfly). We spend so much time on that page talking about all the different colors and shapes. If you notice the same in your little one, great…repeat that book over and over. This engages your little one as he/she is naturally interested in the book, allows for repetition, and gives the opportunity to expand on new ideas each time you read together.
It is never too soon to introduce books to your little love. It might feel foreign to read to a 2 month old, but it is a wonderful gift you are giving your baby. Soon it will not feel foreign, and storytime will be a highlight of the day!
UPDATE: Suggestions and Questions
Some of you have shared some really wonderful reading tips and have asked questions that I’m sure many are also wondering. I thought it would be helpful to share the tips and questions below:
1. One mama shared that she used to record her voice when reading stories to her children. She would play the recording for her children when they were going to sleep. She said they loved them and would request the “mommy tape”.
-Very creative! I bet this could be very soothing for little ones, too!
2. One mama shared that her 9 month old just wants to eat the books and he will grab at the book until it is in his mouth!
-My little guy is also at the stage where EVERYTHING ends up in his mouth. Sometimes I let him “eat” the book as a way of exploring. Other times, when I’m reading the book or talking about the book, I give him something to hold that he can put in his mouth, in place of putting the book in his mouth. That way his hands are occupied, he can chew on something if he needs that input, and I am able to read and talk about the book.
Have a questions or suggestion….please share!!