Reading Tips for Parents of Babies
It's never too early to read to your baby. As soon as your baby is born, he or she starts learning. Just by talking to, playing with, and caring for your baby every day, you help your baby develop language skills necessary to become a reader. By reading with your baby, you foster a love of books and reading right from the start. The tips below offer some fun ways you can help your child become a happy and confident reader. Try a new tip each week. See what works best for your child.
These tips for parents of babies are also available as a one-page handout to download and print.
Our reading tip sheets,
for parents of children
in preschool to grade 3,
are available in 9 other languages.
Snuggle up with a book
When you hold your baby close and look at a book together, your baby will enjoy the snuggling and hearing your voice as well as the story. Feeling safe and secure with you while looking at a book builds your baby's confidence and love of reading.
Choose baby-friendly books
Books with bright and bold or high-contrast illustrations are easier for young babies to see, and will grab their attention. Books made of cloth or soft plastic (for the bathtub) or "board books" with sturdy cardboard pages are easier for a baby to handle.
Keep books where your baby can reach them
Make sure books are as easy to reach, hold, and look at as toys. Remember, a baby will do with a book what he does with everything else — put it in his mouth. And that's exactly what he's supposed to do, so you may only want to put chewable books within reach.
Talk with your baby — all day long
Describe the weather or which apples you are choosing at the grocery. Talk about the pictures in a book or things you see on a walk. Ask questions. By listening, your child learns words, ideas, and how language works.
Encourage your baby's coos, growls, and gurgles
They are your baby's way of communicating with you, and are important first steps toward speech. Encourage attempts to mimic you. The more your baby practices making sounds, the clearer they will become. Go ahead and moo, woof and honk!
Give baby a hand!
Encourage your baby to pick up crackers or peas, touch noses and toes, point to pictures and grab toys. The muscles in those little hands will grow strong, agile, and ready to turn pages.
Develop a daily routine (and make reading a part of it)
Routines can soothe a baby, and let a baby learn to predict what will happen next. The ability to predict is important when your child is older and is reading independently.
Sing, Read, Repeat
Read favorite stories and sing favorite songs over and over again. Repeated fun with books will strengthen language development and positive feelings about reading.
"Read" your baby
Pay attention to how your baby reacts to the book you are reading. Stop if your baby isn't enjoying the story and try another book or another time
Reading tip sheets in other languages
Find these and other downloadable tips and guides in our Guides section.
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