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Read Aloud Tips for Parents with Babies

| Brain Development

Experts agree, it’s never too early to start reading to your baby.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • It’s easy to feel like there isn’t time to read aloud with an infant at home! Start with one time of day and make it a routine. Bedtime is a common choice, but connecting over a book in the morning or after getting home works well too. Your baby loves snuggling up and hearing your voice no matter when you read!
  • New parents might feel awkward reading aloud. Try watching a pro, like a grandparent or other visitor. Notice how simple and cozy it can be and try it yourself when you and your Illustration of mother and childrenbaby are alone. Start by getting comfortable reading one favorite book.
  • Experienced parents are often busy with other kids, but it’s easy to involve your baby in story time with older child. Simply hold him while you read a sibling’s books, or invite your older child to add “one book for baby” to your stack. Siblings can even help “read” by talking about and pointing to the pictures.
  • Your baby doesn’t talk yet, but you can still enjoy a “conversation” together. Talk about and point to the pictures in books and comment on what you notice your baby doing, like how he moves his arms and legs or sighs as you read Mem Fox’s soothing Time for Bed. Talk about how she startles or smiles when you read “Peek a BOO!” in Nina Laden’s Peek-a-WHO? This “back and forth” interaction connects you and your baby and supports brain development, too.
  • Your baby can begin actively participating in read aloud time within a few short months, especially if you offer guidance and encouragement. Show your baby how to “pick” a book by putting a few within reach for him to grab. Let her pat the pages as you talk about the babies’ faces in Margaret Miller’s I Love Colors, or even mouth her board books. This is how she learns! Sharing books together in these early days promotes a close relationship and teaches your child right from the start that reading is enjoyable—a lesson that will last a lifetime.

To learn more about reading with your baby, check out these resources:

How to Introduce Toddlers and Babies to Books

American Academy of Pediatrics Books Build Connections Toolkit

Video: Serve and Return Interaction Shapes Brain Circuitry

13 Things Babies Learn When We Read to Them