Reading to newborns and young infants has so many benefits for your baby’s developing brain. But it can be discouraging when your child seems disinterested or indifferent. Obviously, they won’t understand everything you’re doing but the key is to read with them, engage their senses, and make it fun. Around 4-6 months babies may become more interested in books especially with consistent exposure.

 

Create voices for characters and vary your tone

Babies love hearing their mother’s (and father’s) voice. When your baby hears you using different emotions and expressive sounds it’s helping your baby’s social and emotional development. Books that are read with joy and excitement will be associated with happiness. Newborns and young infants will enjoy being sung to, lullabies and nursery rhymes are great for this. They will find it entertaining when you read with expression, making your voice higher and lower when appropriate. Creating different voices for different characters can also be really fun.

 

Use your body and hands to emphasize the story

There has been extensive research conducted that suggests simple hand movements can have a substantial impact on the way a child learns. Babies who are exposed to communicative gestures have appeared to learn language more quickly and gain a larger vocabulary. Newborn’s eyes are still developing but as your infant starts to hit the 4-6-month mark, they will find your use of hand and body gestures to be amusing.

 

Make silly faces

Your baby’s favorite pastime is likely just looking at you! Baby’s start to scan and memorize their parents faces just minutes after being born. They find us adults completely fascinating. When reading to your newborn or young infant position them in a way where they’re looking directly at you. Create silly faces that correlate with the story you’re reading. Your baby will really enjoy this and may even try to imitate you, even tiny infants are capable of this. Be mindful of your baby’s reactions, if they don’t appear interested try again later, young babies can easily be overstimulated. This simple exercise stimulates your baby’s social, emotional, and visual development.

 

Choose interactive books

Books with tactile surfaces, peek through holes, finger puppets, mirrors, etc. are very stimulating for young infants. The more ways you have to enjoy a book with your baby, the better. It’s not so much about the reading at this young age but more about the bonding and creating positive associations. You can equate reading with playtime so books with flaps, interactive components, and fun surprises are perfect for this age group.

 

Let them snuggle in your lap

Having this physical connection during reading time is so important to the bonding experience. Think of reading time as a time to also cuddle and connect. This routine can be very calming for infants as they feel safe, warm, and connected to you. From the wise words of Emilie Buchwald, children are made readers on the laps of their parents.

 

Provide books that are safe for them to handle

As your newborn starts to grow (around 3-6 months) they will LOVE putting things in their mouth. This is one way they explore objects in their world. It’s a good idea to have books that are safe for them to handle while avoiding injuries or mishaps. Cloth and vinyl books are great for young infants because they safe to be chewed on and will teach children books are in fact not food lol. As they become older infants (4-6 months) chunky and sturdy board books with rounded edges are also a great option.

 

Reading from birth can really set the stage for language development, enhanced cognitive skills, and school readiness. It’s never too early (or too late!) to start. I hope you’ve found some of the suggestions useful!

Happy Reading