There is extensive research out there stating the benefits and importance of reading to and with your young children. Now, research is even indicating the impact of reading to your infants, way before they can see, hear, or comprehend images and words. We know how beneficial it is to read with our kids, but now we need to understand the benefits our reading to infants and the profound positive impact it has on their development. Reading to your infants has a similar effect as it does on older children – it is nurturing and it helps parents bond with their baby. It also encourages babies and children to have a positive connection with books. This blog post will explore the various benefits of reading to your baby, how you can incorporate it into your family’s schedule, and what books are appropriate for infants.
Benefits of Reading to Your Baby
One benefit of reading aloud to your infant is that it sets the tone for school readiness. It promotes development within your child’s reading ability and skills, and language development. It helps your child become familiar with books and helps them get good at listening and focusing. It also helps them get accustomed to the nuances of reading.
Another benefit of reading aloud to your baby is that it enhances language and cognitive thinking skills, and develops and improves memory. As these skills develop through reading, engaging your infant with books and reading will encourage curiosity and creative exploration of the world around them.
A third benefit of reading aloud to your baby is that it can help build their vocabulary. Reading with your children also provides them with vocabulary words that they will use throughout their life. While your infant might not understand the concepts and storylines of books, hearing your voice is comforting and as time goes on your child will be able to find meaning in the words you are reading. Research shows that the more words caregivers use when speaking to an 8-month-old infant, the greater the size of that child’s vocabulary will be by the age of 3.
Another proven benefit of reading to your baby is that it allows for bonding time between you and your child. This special bonding time that allows your baby to develop their curiosity and skills also helps build the attachment bond between you. Healthy attachment between you and your baby is crucial during their early stages of development.
The Best Books to Read With Your Infant
Lisa S. Scott, an Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Florida, completed a study on early childhood reading and the quality of the books being read to babies. She and her team collected data on 6-month-old babies and they used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure their brain responses during reading. The researchers split the infants into separate groups; one that read books with generic images and labels, and a group that read books with more detailed and specific labels and images.
Scott and her research team’s findings were significant! They indicated that parents should be reading age appropriate books to their infants. Books that are appropriate for infants look very different from books that are written for 2-year-olds, and 4-year-olds who are getting ready to read on their own will need specific, age appropriate books. For infants, finding books that name and identify different characters may improve the quality of shared book reading as these books show to boost developmental skills in babies.
Also, keep in mind that all babies are unique. Try to find books that interest your infant most. Another reason as to why books with named characters may be more effective for shared reading is that it likely increases parent talking. Research also indicates the importance of talking to your baby. So, if you have an infant, include shared out-loud reading in your daily routine. Talk to and read with your baby often to help them explore their new world!
Colleen D. Multari’s article, 4 Proven Benefits of Reading Out Loud to Your Baby, was referenced for this post.
Lisa S. Scott’s article, For Baby’s Brain to Benefit, Read the Right Books at the Right Time, was referenced for this post.