Tips for reading with baby

Reading to your baby introduces her to new words and conveys the importance of books and literacy. Get the most from reading with your child with these tips.

Learning Stages

Reading together with your baby has enormous benefits. It introduces her to new words and conveys the importance of books and literacy—and research shows that early exposure to reading will improve her chances for school success in later years.

There is no “right way” to read to your baby, but here are some ideas for getting the most from your shared reading experience:

Make time to read, even for a few minutes

Establishing a regular reading routine gives your child a special time to look forward to each day.

Let your child set the pace

The best way to foster a love of reading is to focus on the parts of the book that are most interesting to your child. Sometimes your child will want to go slowly, and other times quickly. Your child may want to start in the middle of the book, or just look at favorite pages. Other times your child may want to spend time just touching and discovering the sounds and sights on a single page.

Keep in mind a child’s attention span

At this age, your baby can pay attention for only a short time, so she may not listen to a story from beginning to end without interruption. When you let your child choose the pages, focusing on a few pages with lots of large, colorful pictures, you work within your child’s attention span.

It’s OK to make mistakes

Don’t worry very much about how you read. The idea is to share the story and enjoy the experience together. Just being close to you and hearing your voice creates a comforting environment for your child.

Be a role model

In the early months, your child communicates by imitating you. Encourage this imitation by bringing your face close to your baby’s face when you read a story. Choose a focal point on every page and react with exaggerated facial expression or an exclamation like, “Wow!” or “My goodness!” If your child doesn’t join in right away, be patient. Your baby learns simply by watching you and will catch on soon enough.

Add gestures

Liven up familiar songs by adding movement and gestures while you read. This gives your child a non-verbal way to communicate with you and adds another element of fun to your story time experience.

Grin and bear it

When your child latches on to a favorite story, you’ll know it. Repeating the same story over and over again provides your child with more opportunities to learn the words, understand the story and develop long-term memory skills. Read that all-too-familiar book with enthusiasm, and pay attention to how much more your child knows each time you do.