Reading to Baby

Reading to BabyOne of the first things I ever read to my son was from a book about gender and bereavement. ‘Twas heavy stuff for a newborn, but he was fussy and I needed to get my work done. Turns out the soothing, slow voice I used as I took notes also calmed him as he rested on my belly. Since that time, we’ve moved to lighter material. Goodbye sociology, hello moon.

Since the opening lines of that very first book, our reading journey has proven fruitful in a number of ways.

  • Routine: Sometimes our reading is part of play time, but usually when we sit down to read our sons know we are having some chill time. If it’s after lunch or bath, then they also know we’re heading toward Sleepy Town.
  • Bonding: It’s not just sitting closely together that bonds us (though that’s important too!). We’re sharing in an experience on the page, having an interactive conversation about something else. Sure, this can happen in other ways, but at 20 months and 3 years, my boys aren’t capable of too much conversation. With a book in hand though, we can talk about going to the moon, the last time they were mad, or what we think the caterpillar could eat next.
  • Learning: Books may help to facilitate learning numbers, colors, and vocabulary. Those first few months and years are critically related to a child’s success in later life. Books also teach my son expressions as he hears my voice in conjunction with the story. He can take in information about the world around him. He can learn about feelings. Books exist for almost any occasion—Recycling? Don’t eat meat? Grandma recently died? Going on your first plane ride? Bringing home another child into your family? There’s a book for that! Books open children open to a world of the unknown, but they also help a child understand what is happening in the immediate world around them.
  • Skill-Building: Sitting still to read a book is a skill as is sitting and listening. The discipline of learning, over time, to take in a book’s fullness offers abilities that will help a child move toward the big-kid world. If you’re concerned with preparing your child for school or just want to help build them a highly-functional brain and enhance their memory, reading is a place to start.

Don’t think books can wait until baby can talk or read. Even before a child understands words, talking in a soothing voice, watching daddy’s entertaining faces, and seeing the high contrast images on a book’s pages offer even the youngest of babies a fantastic experience.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

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