Though it may seem like a simple activity, reading to newborns provides many benefits. Undeveloped minds are highly active, eagerly taking in the sights and sounds around them.
Reading aloud is one way to help kids develop skills they can use in the future. Learn more about the benefits of reading to newborns below.
Stimulating a Newborn
Stimulation is a crucial part of a newborn’s development. They need to be exposed to a variety of stimuli to encourage proper growth and learning.
Many parents worry that they will not be able to provide enough stimulation for their children. But you can do more than you think.
Reading aloud is an excellent way to stimulate a newborn’s mind. Babies love to listen to the sound of their parent’s voices. The rhythm and cadence of speech are soothing and calming for them.
This kind of stimulation ensures that your baby’s mind is active and engaged. As they listen to you read aloud, newborns also take in all the sounds and sights around them.
Benefits of Reading Aloud to Babies
Reading together is a unique way to bond with your newborn. As you share stories and rhymes, you are building a foundation for a lifetime of love and learning.
You are also creating special memories that you will both cherish. Family building is an important part of a baby’s development, and reading to them is one way to help your child feel loved and secure.
Reading also jumpstarts their language skills. Hearing words spoken aloud helps babies learn about the sounds and rhythms of language. And as your baby hears you read, they also build their vocabulary.
By six months, babies who have been read to regularly will likely have heard about 300 more words than those who have not been read to regularly. These children will have twice as large vocabularies as their non-reading peers by age two or three.
In addition to promoting language development, reading also stimulates brain development. A baby’s brain grows at an astonishing rate during its first year of life—and reading helps nurture early learning.
Research has shown that early exposure to books can increase intelligence, creativity, and concentration later in life. It also helps them excel in school and their careers. Their memory and problem-solving skills will also be better developed.
Believe it or not, reading to your baby can also help them sleep better. A bedtime story can be a soothing way to end the day and signal your baby that it’s time to wind down for the night. Your voice can also lull them off to sleep. This is especially helpful for babies who have difficulty sleeping through the night.
Reading to your baby can also help them regulate their emotions. As they listen to stories, they learn about a range of emotions—including happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. This helps them understand and express their own emotions.
It also helps them develop empathy for others. This emotional learning is essential for a healthy and well-rounded individual.
Love for Literature
Not only does reading to your baby have all these amazing benefits, but it also instills a love for literature. When you make reading a part of your daily routine, you teach your child that books are enjoyable in their early years.
They will be more likely to seek out books on their own and become lifelong readers. Research shows that avid readers are happier and more successful than non-readers.
How early should you read to your baby?
You can start reading to your baby as early as you like. There is no wrong time to start sharing stories and rhymes. Even newborns will benefit from being read to. When you first start reading to your baby, keep it simple.
You want them to enjoy the experience. As your child grows, you can gradually introduce more complex stories.
How often should you read to a newborn?
As frequently as possible. The more often you read to your baby, the better. If you can, try to read together every day. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, reading will help your baby learn and grow.
Spending just 10-15 minutes reading together each day can make a big difference in your baby’s development.
Don’t worry if you can’t read together every day. Any amount of reading is beneficial. If you only have time for one story a week, that’s fine. Just make story time a part of your regular routine. You and your baby will both enjoy the experience.
What kinds of books should you read to your newborn?
The best books for babies have bright colors, simple stories, and many pictures. Look for chunky board books, vinyl or cloth books, or even regular picture books that are durable and easy for little hands to hold. You can also read your baby nursery rhymes, poems, or songs.
Even better, if you can find age-appropriate books on foreign folk tales and stories. These will help expose your baby to a variety of cultures. Many public libraries offer books in different languages, too. You can also find foreign language children’s books online or at specialty bookstores.
Some parents also read their babies classic novels and other “grown-up” books. While these may not be as visually stimulating as other books, they can still be enjoyable for both of you.
Babies without much exposure to books may be more interested in the sound of your voice and the movement of the pages than the actual story. So, don’t worry if your baby doesn’t seem to pay attention at first. Just keep reading, and they’ll eventually catch on.
Should I read to my newborn while sleeping?
As long as your baby is sleeping peacefully, there’s no need to wake them up to read to them. They’ll still benefit from hearing you read even if they’re asleep. This is because their brains are still processing the sounds and words they’re hearing. So go ahead and read away.
But reading may not be the best option if your baby is fussy or seems to be having trouble sleeping. You don’t want to do anything that will make them more awake or agitated. In this case, try singing a lullaby or talking in a soothing voice instead. You can also try rubbing their back or rocking them gently.
What if my baby doesn’t like being read to?
Not every baby enjoys being read to at first. If your baby seems disinterested, don’t force it. Try reading again later when they’re older. You can also try different kinds of books or use a different voice.
Some babies prefer being read to while bouncing in a baby carrier or sitting on your lap. You can also try reading before bedtime when they’re sleepy.
When should you stop reading to your baby?
Never. You can continue reading to your child as long as they want you to. As they grow older, they’ll be able to understand more complex stories. They may even want to read to you. Some parents continue reading to their kids even after they’ve learned to read independently. Reading together is a great way to bond with your child.
Reading to your newborn has countless benefits—from bonding and language development to brain growth and improved sleep patterns. Different types of books can also help expose your baby to new concepts. So, go ahead and start reading today. You and your baby will have a lot to gain from this simple activity.