I have always been an avid reader. During my free time, you can almost always find me cuddled up on the couch reading a good book and sipping on a warm cup of coffee. Now that Baby J is here, reading together is one of our favorite bonding activities! Today I’d like to share some of the benefits of reading to your newborn and show you how you can start reading with your newborn right away!
Why should you read to your newborn?
Reading to your newborn increases vocabulary and academic success as they get older.
Research shows that by reading to your newborn, you introduce her to many more words and significantly increase her vocabulary at an early age. Because she is exposed to more words, she is prepared to be more successful once she begins reading. Although you might expect those benefits, kids also have increased math skills and higher scores on standardized testing when they are read to as babies. Talk about a win-win-win!
Reading to your babies is an amazing bonding opportunity for both of you.
When you read to your baby, you give them your undivided attention. You’re not distracted by your cell phone, cleaning, or other obligations. Instead, you show your baby that he is important to you. It’s also an amazing opportunity for you to snuggle and hug your baby and talk to him in a soothing, calming voice. All of which increases your bond with your baby!
You foster an early love of reading with your baby.
By reading with your newborn, you start to develop a habit of reading as soon as she comes home from the hospital. You show your baby the joys of reading and help to create feelings of love, security, and fun with reading time. Children that are read to as newborns are significantly more likely to continue to read for enjoyment as older children and adults.
When should you read with your newborn?
Start as soon as possible!
Your baby is never too young to read and it’s great to start right away! The earlier you start reading with your baby, the earlier they will begin receiving the benefits of reading. Also, the sooner you start, the sooner you and your baby can bond over books!
Try to read for 15 minutes a day.
In order to fully receive these benefits and create a habit and love of reading, you want to make sure that you form a habit and read every single day. It’s better to read for short periods of time every day than to read for longer periods of time once a week.
To really light up the neurons in your baby’s brain, always try to read at least 15 minutes each day. We like to break this up by reading for a few minutes before morning nap, a few minutes during afternoon playtime, and a few minutes in our bedtime routine (often times during bathtime!). By reading before naps and bedtime, we slow down and start to teach that it’s time to sleep. (This also helps to reverse day/night confusion that many newborns have!). But we also want to read when Baby J is awake and active so he can interact with the book and watch the pages.
Don’t feel like you have to read every word or finish every book. If your baby seems distracted after a few minutes, put down the book and come back to it later in the day. Also, don’t be afraid to re-read the same book over and over. The repetition is great for your newborn!
What should you read to your newborn?
Read books with big pictures and lots of contrast.
When your newborn first comes home, her vision is still super underdeveloped. She can’t see very far (only about 10-18 inches!) and can’t see very well. To help her develop her sense of sight, it’s best to read books that have big pictures and high contrast.
There are tons of great newborn books that you can purchase or get from your local library! Many newborn books are in black and white or black and red to have tons of contrast for your newborn. Most newborn books also have only a few words per page or no words per page to allow for larger pictures.
Read books that have a sing-song rhythm.
By reading to your newborn, you are introducing her to new words and the fun of reading. But you are also teaching her rhythm, rhyming, pitch, and more! A great way to build these skills is to read books with a sing-song rhythm. These are fun for you and for baby and have a huge emphasis on rhythm and rhyming. They also make the perfect books to read over and over!
Read anything that you want!
The best part about reading to a newborn is that you can read anything you want! Your priority is not reading something that your baby will understand and you don’t have to worry about keeping your baby’s attention. If you want to read him your favorite mystery novel, a story from the newspaper, or an article from a magazine, that is perfectly fine!
This was a super helpful tool for us on nights when Baby J was extra fussy. I would swaddle him tightly, snuggle closely with him, and then read whatever novel I was reading at the time. He felt
How should you read to your baby?
Cuddle and snuggle with your baby while you read.
Although all of the benefits of reading are amazing, I strongly believe that the best benefit is being able to bond and build your relationship with your baby. When you read, take the time to snuggle and cuddle with your baby. Make it a priority for you to intentionally bond with your baby and enjoy some one-on-one time together. This is the best way to form a habit and love of reading because she will associate reading with cuddling and spending time with you.
Use lots of expression and make it fun!
Remember that when you read with your baby, you are teaching so much more than just vocabulary. You’re teaching rhythm, rhyming, pitch, noises, and more! Make reading fun and increase learning by using tons of expressions.
Use goofy tones and change voices with different characters in your story. You can also use a sing-song pitch and bounce your baby while you read. Take the time to stop and ask questions or point out things on the pages. (Look at the black kitty. Cats say meow.) Play games and make reading fun!
Bonus Tip: Read in front of your baby
If you really want to encourage your baby to read and build a reading lifestyle with your little person, don’t just read to your baby. Also, read in front of your baby. By reading your own personal books in front of your child, you are demonstrating that reading is valuable and it is worth your time. You role model great reading habits and significantly increase the odds that your child will become a reader too!
There are so many amazing bonding opportunities and benefits to reading with your baby. Use these ideas and get started reading with your newborn today!
How do you incorporate reading with your baby into your schedule?
Thanks for leaving a comment! I can’t wait to hear what you do at your house!