Reading can open up a whole new world for both children and adults, but did you know that reading to your baby has benefits as well? It’s true! In fact several studies have linked some pretty big benefits to reading to infants.
- Babies learn speech and language skills by listening to you speak. When you read to them, they learn how individual sounds work together to form words and sentences through receptive language. In fact, research suggests that babies who are read to regularly starting at six months of age have almost twice the receptive language by 18 months of age as those that were not read to.
- As you may already know, babies’ brains grow the most from birth to age three. There is a lot of time for retention and growth there. Not only will baby learn how to speak, and learn how language flows, you’ll also be improving your baby’s vocabulary, one book at a time!
- Imagination is something that some believe to be dwindling in today’s youth. Reading cultivates that! Books contain pictures, stories, and words that cultivate creativity and nurture a child’s natural curiosity. This lends to improved thinking skills, including problem-solving and decision making.
- Reading in adulthood is now being linked to a number of health benefits, including memory retention, reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and fewer issues with depression. By reading to your child very early in life, you are conditioning your child to become a life-long reader!
- Listening to stories can help boost both memory and attention span in young children. This is because they have to recall what has happened in the story up to the page being read. But don’t worry about reading something too advanced for your child; they’ll still get all the excellent benefits of being read to.
- Most babies sit on a lap while being read to. This, of course, creates a bonding experience for both parent and baby. In fact, the bond is so prominent that even the March of Dimes has established the Bedside Reading Program that encourages parents to read to their preemies in the NICU.
- Reading is relaxing for both parent and baby. This can help ease stress from a long day at work, or from a tough day at daycare, or just a frustrating day at home. Whatever you did that day, rest assured that reading will help calm the frenzy.
- Reading right before bedtime can help establish good bedtime rituals. This is important as baby transitions into toddler-hood, when bedtimes are important for getting enough sleep for the following day.
- Pictures in books can help babies learn word association. You can point out the items as you’re naming them or reading about them . . . or you can let your baby gather context clues and watch over the next several months and discover just how smart babies really are!
- Reading to your baby teaches them basic book mechanics. They learn how to hold a book. They learn that we read from left to right. These are all elements that are important for readers in the early years; by reading to your baby daily, you just might start to see some of these habits forming, even before they start school.