As a new parent, you may be surprised by the benefits of reading to newborns.
Understanding the Benefits of Reading to Newborns
Your cute and cuddly baby is learning an astonishing amount of new information each day. Even though babies can only communicate through crying, eye contact, and body language, they are listening carefully to the people around them in order to develop their own language skills.
Obviously, talking to your baby is the primary way in which you can help her develop her language skills. If you haven't had a lot of experience being around a newborn, however, the idea of spending a lot of time talking to someone who doesn't talk back may seem a bit silly. The exaggerated "baby talk" that some parents fall into naturally is fine, but it's not something everyone feels comfortable doing. This is where reading to your newborn is especially helpful. The more stories you read to your child, the more natural it will feel to be chatting with the newest addition to your family.
Other benefits of reading to newborns include:
- Reading and snuggling together helps to foster an emotional connection between you and your child.
- Reading books together is a good way to help your baby unwind after a long day.
- Books are great tools for keeping your baby distracted when she's at the doctor's office or forced to wait in line while you pay for your groceries.
- Reading to your newborn makes it clear that your family believes reading for pleasure is a worthwhile pursuit and sends the message that reading is fun.
- Even though it will be many years before your baby is reading on her own, your story time rituals are helping her to develop pre-reading skills such as cognitive recognition and an understanding of the concepts of beginning and end.
Will reading to your baby make her smarter? Intelligence is affected by many different factors, a large number of which are genetic. However, there have been several studies showing that children who were read to as newborns have larger vocabularies and greater mathematical abilities than their peers by the time they enter kindergarten. They also have longer attention spans and better problem solving skills, two things that are crucial to a successful academic experience.
Choosing Books to Read
When your child is a newborn, it really doesn't matter what you are reading to her. In fact, you could get all the benefits of reading to newborns by reading an article from the latest issue of your favorite magazine or a chapter in the novel you've been meaning to finish since you first found out you were pregnant. If you're an avid reader, this might actually be a good way to sneak in some time for yourself while still enjoying bonding with your baby.
Of course, if you'd prefer to choose books that are intended for children, you have plenty of options available. The best books for reading to infants are short stories with colorful pictures. Books with rhyming words or animal sounds are also very popular. Keep in mind that a newborn's attention span is only about five minutes, so you don't want to be too ambitious with your selections. To obtain the maximum benefits of reading to newborns, try reading for several short sessions per day instead of one long story time.
Some of the most frequently recommended books for a newborn's library include:
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
- Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
- Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle
For more tips on choosing the best books for your child's library, visit LoveToKnow Children's Books.