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Reading to Your Baby: When to Start and How to Do it Well


Ah, babies. So adorable. So ready to snuggle. So ready to start reading!

Wait-- Babies read?

No, technically babies can't read. As we all know, babies are preoccupied with learning things such as rediscovering their feet every other day, exploring the perpetually new world around them, and making a mess for mommy. Regardless however, they reap immense benefits of being read to early and often. Here are five reasons you should regularly read to your baby:


Kids grow up rapidly! One minute, we describe them as this many inches long, so-and-so months old and then the next they're pushing five feet tall! No, they don't stay small for very long. But  reading to your baby, holding him or her in your arms while enjoying  a book, will slow down that growing-up process for both of you. It will allow you to snuggle up with your special little one and create an intimate moment of shared fun and learning whose memory will persevere.  


Studies have shown that reading to babies (even newborns!), helps them develop their vocabulary. At first they will have no idea what you are saying, what your words mean, and why you make the faces that you do when the words come out. However they slowly begin to absorb the repeated sounds of Mommy and Daddy and associate them as sounds that identify the images in books. This step in cognitive development is key-- and you will have so much fun doing it!

Just for the love of it

Reading to your baby is a wonderful opportunity to rediscover some of the cherished books you loved as a child. You'll be amazed how much fun it is; it takes you back to your youth, when you yourself were just discovering the power of alliteration and developing your love of reading. In fact, remembering how excited you were to learn to read will inspire you to read more to your baby. 


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Baby see, baby do

For better or worse, children emulate the behaviors they see in their parents. This means that if your baby grows accustomed to you reading to him or her and can pick up on your enthusiasm and love for reading, he or she is likely to develop the same passion for it. It's only natural. For babies born in the digital age rife with many bright, loud distractions 

It's an investment

There's no proof that reading to your baby will get them a full ride scholarship to Harvard someday, but there is evidence that it will help him or her do better in school. Educators consistently report that kids who were read to frequently and read frequently as a result perform significantly better in school than their non-reading peers. A baby does not know to best prepare themselves for future academic achievement, but this where our role as parents is integral; by investing time reading to our babies, we give them a gift that will last a lifetime.

Ah, babies. So adorable. So ready to snuggle. So ready to start reading! So grab your baby's favorite MAM pacifier, snuggle under a blanket, grab a great book and start reading! 

Now we need your help! We and many parents need advice for the best books out there. What were some of your all-time favorites when you were a child, and what books do your baby love?

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my LO is 3 weeks old. i try to read goodnight moon during our second night feeding. we also have several children's Bibles that we read a story from. my DH is fluent in German and we are building up our collection of german children's books. my fave is die kliene raupe nimmersatt=the very hungry caterpillar. :)
Posted @ Thursday, April 26, 2012 10:22 AM by mel
We have read to my now 1 year old every night since he was just a couple of weeks old and he loves books. When he is tired he will grab his mam paci, favorite books, and start handing them to anyone in sight to read to him. I love snuggling and reading even if it is Mr. Brown Can Moo three time in a row!
Posted @ Thursday, April 26, 2012 12:25 PM by Casey
I started reading to my son when I was breastfeeding at home. This was great, especially in the middle of the night feeding when I was having trouble staying awake. It doesn't matter what you read out loud to a newborn so I read whatever fiction book I was reading at the time. 
After he decided to stop breastfeeding, I started giving him a bottle so he would stay still while on the changing table. I realized he was still drinking after I was done so I grab a book and read to him while he's enjoying his bottle. 
Now a days, it's one of the few times he stays still.
Posted @ Thursday, April 26, 2012 12:33 PM by kierae
Our favorite is "Love is a Handful of Honey," it's just the perfect bedtime story. It rhymes, has nice soft colored pictures and isn't too short or long. I had never heard of it before we saw it in Coles Bookstore, but fell in love after reading the first few pages.
Posted @ Thursday, April 26, 2012 12:48 PM by Jamie Shirlaw
I have to admit that I have been not so great at reading to my son. He'sa month from being two and just started asking about books ( we have always had a bookshelf with books in his room). So I read to him only about 7x a wk. But after reading this article I am getting to it. But I will say his favorite books are ones that my parents got him from Hallmark. They are the kind that you record yourself reading it, in this case it's his Nana & Papa reading. Hallmark has lots of options even ones where the kid can read/record themselves reading it to grandparents. My sister.did this with her 7 & 9 ye old. My parents love it more than anything due to the kids moving 4 hrs away. Hope that helps someone. But if I have to pick the best book to read, it would be first all a children's BIBLE then next would be the your baby can read package deal. I started my son on it at 3 months (its DVDs & books and much more) I swear by it. I quit doing it about 2 months later cuz I saw a news report that it didn't work but NY son says complete sentences & has for the past month and he still reads the books and plays with the flash cards so I have no doubt it worked. Good luck to my fellow moms. I'm not perfect but I try not to beat myself up about time lost I am just gonna start trying harder now. My prayers are with all of us because although this is the greatest gift ever, it us also hard. Ttyl..... 
Posted @ Thursday, April 26, 2012 1:23 PM by Jessica
I have been reading to my 10 month old son since before he was born. He love being read to. He also enjoys sitting on the floor and looking at the books himself. He turns the pages by himself. The thick pages books of course. He also turns the pages when I read to him. Reading to him is fun for me and for him.
Posted @ Thursday, April 26, 2012 2:17 PM by Judy Kirera
We've been reading to our 17 month old as part of her night time routine for close to a year. I really wanted her to know about books and learn to love them because her dad and I both love to read too. Some of our favorite reads are "On the Night You Were Born", "Goodnight Moon", "How Do I Love You?" and "The Going To Bed Book". It's so much fun to watch her learn words and start expecting what's coming or where something is on a page. Right now we are sticking with board books because she's too rough for paper pages, but once she is ready for those I can't wait to read her "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" becasue it was definitely one of my favorites as a kid.
Posted @ Thursday, April 26, 2012 7:43 PM by Tess Martin
"The Going to Bed Book" or anything by Sandra Boynton 
"Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown 
"The Very Hungry Caterpillar" or anything by Eric Carle 
"Guess How Much I Love You?" by Sam McBratney 
"Heads" and "Tails" by Matthew Van Fleet These are motion books where you pull tabs to make the animals move. My toddler is fascinated. 
"ABC" or anything by Dr. Seuss. I like the board book better of this one because the rhymes are more concise and easy to recite to stop the fussies. Good one to clap along with and get baby involved. 
Any touch-and-feel book.
Posted @ Friday, April 27, 2012 11:28 AM by Mom of Alice
I guess if you want to read fiction to your kid, can't go wrong with the bible. It has some of the most interesting, made up BS ever!
Posted @ Friday, April 27, 2012 3:55 PM by Jim
My 2.5 year old and 9 month old love Brown Bear, Brown Bear (or the Spanish version: Oso Pardo) and have since they were young. My 2.5 YO now "reads" this and the companion (Panda Bear, Baby Bear, and Polar Bear) books to himself. They also love The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Good Night Moon, Mamas Say Shh, I Love You This Much, and The Busy Bunny. My younger is now beginning to really like the touch and feel books as well.  
For a while my older one didn't want to read, but now he likes to "read" to himself. It's adorable. I'm glad that was only a phase.
Posted @ Monday, April 30, 2012 10:08 AM by Malinda
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