Read to a baby: As a new parent, reading to our babies is an art in itself. It is an art because we need to find the right book to read and choose the best time of the day to read. We need to make it interesting to the baby.
“When I say to a parent, “read to a child”, I don’t want it to sound
like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate. ” — Mem Fox
The benefits of reading have been spoken about, time and again!
Though you may feel the importance of reading …
How do I read?….That’s a big question isn’t it?
You might even feel very awkward to read to a newborn. We don’t even know if they understand anything we are saying. Sometimes it even feels like a waste of time.
But here is the plain and simple truth…
Whether your baby understands the story or not is immaterial. What is important at this stage is that your baby enjoys being close to you, hearing your voice and feeling your touch and warmth.
So as a new parent all these questions and doubts are normal to feel. I felt the same with my little one.
Though I knew the importance of reading, to my baby I was
unsure of how to read to my baby.
So, I thought it is important to write this blog. To share with you all my journey.
My journey on how I overcame the awkwardness and started reading to my little boy.
I have listed out few things that I found helpful when I started reading to him.
(Yes, its all tried and tested!)
- When to start reading
- The real challenge
- The solution
- How to read to your baby
- Tips to choose the right book
When to start reading to your baby
Most of us parents know that books are the best gifts we can give our children. It opens their mind to a whole new world.
There’s a saying that goes “old habits die hard”. It’s the same with books. Therefore, it’s best to introduce books to your child when he is a baby.
It’s never too early to start reading to your child. You can start reading from when the child is born. It makes it part of their routine.
But, Don’t worry if you’re starting late. It’s always better late than never!
The real challenge in reading to your baby
Now, as the baby grows the real challenge lies in sustaining the habit. We need to make reading as interesting and happy as possible to the baby.
As they grow the amount of time they are asleep reduces and their wake time increases. Babies also become more active and have a lot of energy.
The solution to reading to your baby
Not to worry, babies around 3+ months start to explore their
They are fascinated with loud noises, movements of objects and objects which are of bright or highly contrasting colours.
I vividly remember my 3 month old son, he’d just turn towards the backrest of our bright orange sofa and lie down staring at it for what seems to me as eternity…
Now you might be wondering, How is this connected to books?
Well the point I was trying to make is simple… just the way the color orange which is bright had caught my son’s fancy.
The same way, babies love to look at books with bright coloured pictures or high contrast colored pictures. It sustains their interest.
Therefore, it is very important that we choose the right books. And you will be pleasantly surprised as to how much your child will enjoy reading!
HOW TO READ TO A BABY
As mentioned above, how to read to my baby was a million dollar
question. I had the needed books. Yet it felt alien to me at first..
But in time using the techniques listed below with trial and error I was able to successfully over come it. And now we have a wonderful bonding time during reading.
Techniques I have tried and tested…
Snuggle with your baby while reading
Keep your baby close to you, on your lap as you read with them. Babies enjoy the touch and warmth.
Cuddle them, laugh, read aloud, whisper into their ear, hug and kiss as you read.
Reading time is also bonding time. Play with your baby as you read. Rock them and even sing as you read to them.
Your voice, your tone, your pitch all of it is observed and
consumed by your baby while you are concentrating on reading a story.
Get rid of distractions when you read to your baby
Babies get distracted very easily. Make sure that there is no
distraction when you read to your baby.
● It is wise to switch off the television or move to a room
without the television. Children are attracted to the high
colour contrast images and moving objects on television
and in general. While your baby is still very young to form a screen additions. Yet it is wise for you as parent to know about the screen addiction that most of the kids these days are falling pray to. Read our article SCREEN ADDICTION IN KIDS – All you need to know with Tips to know more.
● Put your phone on silent mode. Try not to use your phone
while reading to your baby.
● Choose a place that is not noisy. A place where you can
comfortably sit with your baby and read.
● Remove other toys so that your child is not distracted by
them. This way your child can focus easily on the book.
● Make sure the baby is not hungry or sleepy when you start
reading. It is ok for the baby to doze off to sleep while reading. Young babies are asleep longer than they are awake.
TIP: Don’t worry if your child seems a little distracted. They still hear and absorb whatever you speak!
Modulate your voice as you read
A baby’s hearing is very sensitive. Therefore, use a lot of voice modulations when you read to the baby.
Do not use a monotonous, boring tone without expressions.
Use a lot of exclamations like “oooh”, “oh” “ah” and ” yes” when you read.
This will help sustain the attention of your child. Make all
sentences exclamatory. For example, ’The caaaaaatttt, is drinking millllllkkk!!!!!’
TIP: Notice how your child reacts when you modulate your voiceor use different facial expressions when you play with your child. It’s the same while reading too!
Engage your baby as your read
Tip 1: Playing with your child when you read
It is extremely important that you read along with your child and not just to her.
When I show the picture of a horse to my 6 month old baby boy, I bounce him on my knee and click my tongue mimicking the sound of a horse when it gallops. It excites him.
This engages them in the activity. That way, they are not passive readers. Also, it helps them enjoy reading.
Tip 2: Pause after reading a sentence:
Pausing after reading a sentence gives time for your baby to
Though they may not be able to speak words, they will babble or coo.
Note: This is their way of communication. Acknowledge their response and respond to them.
Tip 3: Point and read to your baby:
Point to the words that you read along with your child by holding his or her finger.
You need to point from left to right. Point to the objects in the book and name them.
This slowly helps the child identify the objects in the book, in real life.
For example, if you are pointing out to a chair in the book, you can point out to a chair in your living room at the same time.
This will help the child connect what she hears to the object in the book and the object in real life. This is the basis of vocabulary building which later on goes to help in effective communication.
Communication is the skill of the future and hence we have spent a lot of time and effort to bring to your our blog 9 BEST WAYS TO DEVELOP YOUR KID’S COMMUNICATION SKILL.
Let your baby explore as you read
Allow the child to explore the book by touching it. Let the child hold the book. It’s ok if the book falls down. Allow them to turn the pages and tap on the book.
Somewhere around 4-6 months you may notice that your baby puts everything she can get a hold of into her mouth.
Children might want to put the book into their mouth too! Let them. It’s their way of exploring their surroundings.
Remember, there is no hurry to finish reading the book at one go. Infact, You don’t even have to read the pages in order (Ha Ha).
Halt at each page and let your baby explore, enjoy and observe the different images or a colourful image. As you read to your child enjoy the way she explores the book.
Pro TIP: Use board books or cloth books. It’s easy for children to hold and manipulate the book. It’s safe if they put it in their mouth. You can even get some sensory books.
Respond to your baby
As the child explores, don’t forget to respond to your child. For example, if your child puts her hand on the image of a cow , say ‘yes! It’s a cow!’.
Also, describe the cow. It’s colour and size, the parts of its body (horns, eyes, mouth, legs).
Tip 1: Respond by Talking:
Go on to talk about the cow. It gives us milk, imitate how the cow moos and say just about anything else that you can talk about the cow.
You can go on till the child loses interest in that page or till when you want to turn to a new page. (Don’t forget to point out with your fingers and modulate your voice!)
Tip 2: Respond by Imitation
If your baby shows interest in a particular page or an image,
spend longer time on that page. If she babbles and coos, respond with exclamations or by imitating her.
When you read, it is important to check if your baby is interested in the book. Pay attention to the way your child responds to the book when you read.
Note: If the child is restless, stop reading. Try a different book or try reading another time. I’ve seen that my 6 month old enjoys black and white books. He loves books with single images on each page.
Pro TIP: Initially, keep reading time short. But read more often and everyday. Children have a very short attention span.
Provide new information to your baby
Repeat the same books over and over again. However each time you read, bring in a different angle to the images in the book.
For example, one day you can talk about the structure of the chair. The next day speak about the number of chairs and the colour. The day after speak about uses, where we use it at home. Like, living room, dining hall, study table, etc,.
There is no one right way to read to your baby. Do what works for you.
The most important thing at this stage when they are infants is that they bond with you through reading.
They get to feel your touch and warmth as you keep them close to you while you read to them.
They hear your voice over and over again and gain familiarity.They also learn a lot of new sounds.
Though they may not be able to make those sounds or respond in a way we understand. Their little minds are constantly absorbing and assimilating information.
Take the time to read to your child. Reading is an amazing way fathers can bond with their babies.
Since the baby spends a lot of time with their mother, encourage the fathers to read to the baby!. The role of a father in child’s success is huge and indisputable. You must read our article on 11 Amazing ways FATHER’S can contribute to child’s success.
With the world moving at a very fast pace, slow down. Spend uninterrupted time with your baby. Read to them.
It’s not only good for your baby, it helps you relax too. It helps you unwind. IF you are a new parent and you are looking for few tips you get you going we have made a list of the same in our blog 15 Easy Practical Parenting Tips – For New Parents.
Read everyday and make it a habit. A part of everyday routine just like eating or bathing or playing.
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If you have any other idea or tip on how read to your baby, please do share with us in your comments below. This will help us to make our blog better and above all your knowledge will benefit other parents also.