Your baby is developing language skills well before they learn to speak or read. Here are the benefits of reading to your infant often and from an early age.

Your baby’s brain is learning to understand language before they’re even born. While your little one might not speak their first word until they’re 12 months or older, they’re always listening, and the cogs are already turning to learn how to talk. Reading to your infant is a great way to help develop their speech and communication skills.

What should I read to my infant?

Picture books are a great way to keep your little one visually stimulated and engaged. Babies can best see bright colors or high-contrasting black and white. Seat your little one on your lap, or have the book turned to them so they can enjoy the pictures as you read to them.

Stories are a good way to familiarise your little one with the things they’ll soon encounter in the world. Popular children’s books are often about food, animals, transport, other children, etc. Interactive books with lift-up-flaps, pop-ups, or different textures on the pages are great for brain stimulation. Check out this list for age-appropriate titles.

Why should I read to my infant?

Being read to from a young age can help build pre-reading skills. By the time your tot starts school, it’s helpful if they already understand that letters make words and reading go left-to-right.

Stories spark children’s imagination. Your infant may not comprehend the story as it is, but being read to can encourage curiosity and help them to become more familiar with sounds and language. Storybooks also help teach the difference between ‘real’ and ‘make-believe’.
Reading can also improve valuable life skills such as vocabulary, memory, concentration, and empathy.

Exposing your infant to books is great for their mental and physical development. Once they are old enough to start building motor reflexes, books are great practice for fine motor skills. Picking up and holding books helps develop the grasping and gripping reflex while turning pages helps with pinching.

Repetition and rhyme can help infants learn, so children’s books can be an incredibly useful learning tool. Reading an adult fiction book out loud to your baby can’t hurt, especially if it’s going to be that or nothing. Hearing sounds and words and watching the way your mouth moves are all good for infant speech development. Try exaggerating the way you move your mouth for certain vowels.