The importance of reading to your infant
For many fortunate adults, childhood books have been threaded into the fiber of their earliest memories. As young children, a love for books develops before they can read or even recognize a letter. Beautiful illustrations, harrowing tales, silly characters, and gallant heroes should make their first appearances long before little eyes and ears can fully comprehend. The benefits of reading to infants are many:
- Expose them to words. Research shows that high-performing students – at the high school and college level – may have started out with an advantage before kindergarten. That advantage? Hearing words, learning words, and thereby having a larger vocabulary. By reading a variety of books to infants long before they can repeat the words, you are exposing them to new sounds, inflections, and concepts.
- Support important development. As adults, we read books to learn, to grow, and to be entertained. It’s no different for infants. In fact, reading to infants supports their social and neurological development. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who are read to, especially before school entry, experience stronger parent-child relationships and learn valuable language and literacy skills.
- Establish a reading routine. In order to launch a lifelong love of learning, we must start reading early and often. Reading with your child every day at the same time will create valuable habits and consistency for your daily routines, but consider making it part of the bedtime routine for added benefits. One study shows infants and toddlers sleep significantly better with a bedtime routine, and maternal moods also increase.
- Skip the screen. Pediatricians don’t recommend any screen time for children younger than 18 months. Choosing books over screens shows your baby there is more to entertainment than electronics. A few tips: While it’s nearly impossible to avoid TV, computers, and handheld devices as adults, we can set our children up with appropriate screen-time boundaries by modeling intentional behavior. Read to our infant with the TV off and your phone tucked away out of sight. Additionally, try reading a book for yourself the same way – bonus points if you have to turn the page instead of push a button!
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