We all want our children to do well in life. One way to give them a good head start is to read to them even as newborns. Research on reading to newborns shows that not only will this be an activity that will bond you and your baby, it will also create a solid foundation for your child's growth and development. It will also teach them to speak and learn the valuable skill of reading.
Reading to newborns will begin the learning process of communication, vocabulary and listening skills. It will stimulate the imagination and introduce the child to the idea of stories, shapes, colors, numbers and letters. It also builds the child's memory and thinking skills.
A child normally begins saying their first word(s) between 13 and 18 months old. Reading to a child from the time they are born will help them to hear and to know more words. Children who have been read to from the beginning normally talk better by the time they are two years old than children who have not been read to. In many cases, they also begin to read sooner and better than children who have not been read to.
Experts suggest that you read to your newborn using expression and emotion. Read with excitement, joy, compassion or other emotions associated with the story. Later your child will make a connection with and understand those emotions. Use diverse voices for the various characters and varying pitches in your voice. Feel free to interact with your child by adding some of your own commentary. You can ask the child questions even though the child cannot answer. For instance, if you are reading a story involving a duck you can point to the duck and say, “Do you see the yellow duck? He's a cute little, yellow duck isn't he?” The baby will hear and learn from this.
Some may find it difficult to understand that it is beneficial to read to a newborn, however, think of yourself when trying to learn a new language, for instance. You listen to the instructor speak and begin to take in the information, but you don't understand it at first. Eventually, as you continue to listen, it will all come together and you will begin to understand, and speak the new language. This is the way it is with a newborn. We can learn new skills through repetition and so does a child. What we read to a newborn is taken into the child's brain. As the child continues to hear the words and continues to develop you will begin to notice the results of your efforts.
Reading to a newborn will not only draw you and the child closer together, it will help with the child's emotional development. The child will feel loved, safe and happy. Later the child will make a connection between love, safety, happiness and reading.
Reading to your newborn does not need to take up a great length of time. You can start out by reading just a couple minutes at a time, several times per day. To help the child to establish a routine a scheduled time to read may be best. Perhaps reading before putting the newborn down for a nap or at bedtime.
You may become bored reading children's books on a regular basis so why not read a book or magazine article to your child that you enjoy or find interesting. That way you will be spending time with your infant, reading to them and helping with their development while reading something that you appreciate as well.