The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go” — Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”
Nothing is more apt than these the words by Dr Seuss. You probably think you’re easily off the hook from having to read a book at least till your baby starts saying a few words – but you couldn’t be further from the fact. Research shows that, even though infants might be too young to grasp or even enjoy being read to, they learn something new all the time.
The key here is, READING OUT LOUD.
If you have a newborn (0-6 months), you can read anything to them; that’s right. Anything. A cookbook, a fashion magazine, your favourite novel, or even the newspaper. The content isn’t relevant here – newborn babies focus on the sound of your voice and the words themselves. It has been scientifically proven that the number of words an infant is exposed to, has a direct impact on their language development and literacy. But the exposure to these words has to be live, in-person and directed to your baby.
Ages 6 to 9 months are more exploratory; babies tend to grab or try and hold on to things. This is an excellent time to bring out books that are likely to appeal to all their senses – the feel of the pages, the smell of the books, the visuals in the illustrations, the sound of your voice or even books that can emit sounds. Believe us; your baby is paying attention and absorbing every experience. And these habits you set now will last for a lifetime.
Pay attention to responses. Make eye contact with your baby. If your child makes a sound, respond to them. The sounds may make no sense to you, but it’s their way of communicating and expressing. Some children even show their interest smiling, or widening their eyes, or even kicking when you start to read.
As your babies grow older, that is, the stage from about ten months to the toddler phase; we can’t emphasise enough how essential reading is to their intellectual, social and emotional development. At this stage, they’re taking it all in – vocabulary, numbers, concepts, colours, animals, manners – almost any important information about how the world works. What’s more, at this age, your child makes the connection between the books, your voice and the physical closeness that reading together brings! Can you think of a better way to bond?
This is also the age where your child will surprise you with their tastes and opinions. They might bring you a particular book they want read to them at bedtime. Encourage this. Encourage them to express what they like about the book and get more books like that. Also, if you can read in more than one language, now’s the time to introduce them to more languages.
Choose books that match your child’s changing interests. Remember, books are friends for life!
Beddy Tip: Let your child turn the pages to control the reading pace.
(It’s also a great way to help develop their motor skills.)