Your baby’s eyesight isn’t fully developed until about four months of age, so start with books that use bold contrasts and black and white patterns. These will provide the most visual stimulation. Babies younger than three months also show a strong interest in books with pictures of other babies’ faces.
Hold books approximately 8-12 inches from your baby’s face to ensure optimum viewing. To extend the life of your child's reading material, choose resilient books that are waterproof and tear-proof.
Reading as a Routine
By four months, your baby’s memory will begin to improve, making this a perfect time to introduce reading as a habitual activity. As she begins to associate stories with bedtime or naptime, sharing a book will help her relax and prepare for a restful sleep. Whenever possible, hold your reading sessions in the same setting, such as a favorite rocking chair. Babies thrive on repetition, so stick to a few favorite books.
Reading as a Speech Tool
As your baby approaches six months, she’ll begin to imitate basic speech sounds. You’ll notice that incoherent “baby babble” will gradually lead to more articulate vowel and consonant sounds. Your little one will begin to recognize familiar songs, phrases, and may even respond to her name. She may respond to certain phrases with gestures, such as waving when you say “bye bye” and lifting her arms in response to “up.” Reading to your little one is instrumental in helping her master her native language.
Reading as Exploration
At nine months, your baby’s attention span and level of curiosity will noticeably increase. She’ll likely show a more active interest in the books you share, and may even fixate on a picture for up to one minute. Now that your baby is actively reaching out and grasping items, she’ll be delighted by books with flaps, musical buttons, and tethered objects. When your baby enters the teething stage, choose books with corners that are made from a chew-proof material.
Emotions and Opinions
As your little one approaches the one-year mark, she’ll begin to experience deeper emotions and develop stronger opinions, reacting more overtly to her surroundings. Where she might have been content with any book you chose a couple of months ago, she will likely have a few favorites she’ll want to hear again and again. Let your baby run the show in terms of what, where, and when you read. She’ll delight in exercising her newfound independence, and you’ll enjoy witnessing her enthusiasm for books!