Why should I read to my baby?
You may wonder what the benefits of reading to a baby are. The baby will not understand everything you do, nor why he does it. For more information on art and education issues visit this page artspacenyc.
But reading aloud to your child is a wonderful shared activity that can continue for years, and is an important stimulus.
Read out loud:
teaches the baby to communicate
introduces concepts such as numbers, letters, colors and shapes in a fun way
develops listening, memory and vocabulary skills
gives babies information about the world around them
Oddly enough, by the time babies are in their first year of life, they have learned all the sounds necessary to speak their native language. The more stories you read to the baby, the more exposed you will be to more words and the easier it will be to talk.
Listening to words helps form a large network of words in the baby’s brain. By the time they are two years old, children whose parents speak or read frequently know more words than children who have not been read. Children who are read during the first years of life are more likely to learn to read at the right time.
When you read, your child listens to how you use different emotions and sounds to express yourself, which encourages the child’s emotional and social development. Reading also invites your child to look, point, touch and answer questions; which promotes social development and reasoning skills. And your baby improves language skills by imitating sounds, recognizing drawings and learning words.
But the most important reason to read aloud to your child is to make a connection between the things your baby wants most: his voice (and being close to you) and the books. Spending time reading to your baby shows that reading is a skill worth learning. And if babies and children are read with joy, enthusiasm and creating a special bond, they begin to associate books with happiness and begin to create a love for reading.
Different ages, different stages
Younger babies may not understand the meaning of the drawings in a book, but they can concentrate on them, especially on faces, bright colors, and contrasting patterns. It is possible to entertain or calm a baby by singing lullabies.
Between 4 and 6 months, your baby may show more interest in the books. The baby will try to grab the book with his hands but will also want to bite, suck and throw. Choose plastic or cloth books that have bright colors and repeated or rhyming text.
Between 6 and 12 months, your child begins to understand that the drawings represent real objects, and is very likely to show preferences for certain drawings, pages or even stories. The baby will react while you read, trying to grab the book and making sounds; and at the end of 12 months will be able to flip the sheets (with your help), point to objects on the page and repeat their sounds.
When and how to read
The good thing about reading aloud is that you do not need a special aptitude or a special device; just you and some books. Read a few minutes at a time but read frequently. Do not worry about reading entire books; Focus on the pages that both you and your baby enjoy.
Try to reserve a moment of the day to read; maybe before nap or bedtime. Not only will this allow you to pamper your child before bedtime, it will also make your life easier by establishing a routine. This will help calm your baby and set expectations when it’s time to go to sleep.
It is also good to read at other times of the day. Choose moments when the baby is dry, fed and attentive. Books are also a good option when you are somewhere waiting. Therefore, it is a good idea to carry some books in the diaper bag, which you can use when you have to wait in the doctor’s office or in the supermarket queue.