Do babies need books? Newborns can’t follow a plotline, understand character development, or even focus on pictures well. Is there a point in reading to your baby? Studies show a resounding ‘Yes’! Just as lullabies offer a soothing connection and comfort for infants, so can the regular habit of reading to your little one. Here are six reasons you should be cracking open the books from day one.
Snuggling up to read provides closeness for parent and baby. When an infant associates the loving familiarity of their parent’s voice with bonding, their natural need for affection and stimulation is met through the activity of reading. In fact, it's so good for bonding that the March of Dimes established a Bedside Reading Program in which parents are encouraged to read to their preemies in the NICU. A child’s first relationships are critical to the connections that tie together their overall well-being. Reading fosters emotional connection, tripling the benefits of a baby’s brain stimulation and development.
Promotes Sensory Development
Reading gives babies information about the world around them. It introduces colors, shapes, numbers, letters, animals and objects in a fun way. Expression used when reading out loud affords a child the opportunity to flourish emotionally. They can start to understand connections when something in a story is upsetting or joyful. Reading promotes thinking skills when a parent invites them to look, touch, laugh and learn through the story elements.
Builds Listening Skills and Verbal Growth
Listening as their parent reads to them is an important form of stimulation. It teaches a baby about communication, feelings, tone and relationships. Reading builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills. By imitating sounds, children learn how to talk and communicate. Children don’t need extravagant books or electronics. Simple, thoughtful stories allow a child’s brain the space to stretch and flex. When babies learn speech patterns and rhythms early on, they increase their attention spans and listening skills as they grow older.
According to kidshealth.org, by the time babies reach their first birthday, they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language. The more stories you read aloud, the more words your child will be exposed to and the better he or she will be able to talk.
Simple stories or long rhythms of speech patterns help children develop language skills from infancy. As American Baby magazine tells CBS news, reading to your baby has long term benefits. The baby absorbs the rhythm of your speech and learns how individual sounds form words. According to research, babies who were read to regularly starting at 6 months, reportedly developed almost twice the receptive language by 18 months as those who weren't.
Memory and Rhythm
A parent’s job of nurturing their child’s growth starts at birth. Story time boosts memory and attention span. This is why children thrive on hearing the same story again and again (and again). They like the predictability of their favorite pages, because it reaffirms and exercises their growing memory. They need to listen well to understand the story elements, and this grows their attention span through their toddler years into their childhood and adult life.
Reading sparks a baby's imagination. Books offer describing words, captivating stories, new ideas, and vibrant illustrations. Reading combines healthy connections between their emotions and their imaginations. Keeping your child’s mind active by reading increases their learning potential and excels creativity. Books nourish a person’s natural curiosity from the time they are infants to adulthood. It is a lifelong gift of critical and creative thinking.
Reading to your child is a shared experience you can continue for years to come; best of all, reading to your baby increases the likelihood that they will be lifelong readers in their life to come. Reading buds readers, and that is a beautiful gift.