Read to your baby to jump-start learning

Aug. 7, 2014—It may seem that the only thing babies might like about books is chewing them. But that’s not true at all.

Even very young babies can enjoy books, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). And reading to your baby—and keeping it up as your child grows—is one of the best things you can do as a parent.

Reading’s rewards

So why is it so important to read aloud to babies and young children? Research shows that it helps:

  • Boost brain development
  • Teach kids to talk
  • Build vocabulary
  • Get kids interested in reading and ready for school

And there’s another important reason to read to your baby. It’s a wonderful way to spend time together, cuddle and grow even closer.

These benefits are why the AAP—in a new policy statement—is urging moms and dads to read to their kids every day, starting in infancy. Learn more about how the AAP says reading aloud helps kids here.

The take-home message
As the AAP says, it’s never too early to introduce kids to books.

And as you turn the pages, make it a fun activity. Ham it up. Use your hands, make faces and talk in funny voices to act out the story. If there’s a picture of a cat, meow like one. You want your baby to look forward to the next book.

And what if your baby starts fussing after only a minute or two of story time? Then stop reading, the AAP advises. Infants and young kids have short attention spans. That’s OK.

Here are more tips from the AAP:

  • Find a quiet, comfortable spot for sharing books
  • Point to the pictures your baby looks at or touches and name what you see
  • Read from a variety of books, including fairy tales, poetry and nursery rhymes
  • Ask your child questions he or she can answer by pointing, such as “Where’s the doggie?” or “Which animal says ‘moo’?”
  • Humor kids if they ask for the same book over and over
  • If your child asks a question, stop and answer it
  • Join your local library

Even after your youngster learns how to read, keep reading. Kids can listen to and understand more difficult stories than they can read on their own, says the AAP.

In addition to reading to your baby, start talking too. Read more about that here.


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