Babies and Books: When to Start Reading to Babies

Babies may not initially understand every word read to them, but they are learning. From listening and memory skills, to vocabulary, reading plays an important part in a baby’s development.

The Benefits of Reading Aloud

The more a baby is read to, the more words he or she is exposed to. In addition, reading to a child helps with concepts like letters, colors, numbers, and shapes. Depending on the book, babies can be introduced to the world around them, whether it’s routines like bathing or eating, or simple objects like apples or dogs.

Perhaps one of the most important benefits of reading aloud to a baby is the bonding that takes place between parent and child. The sound of a parent’s voice is comforting and when connected with books, it makes reading a pleasurable experience.

What to Read to Babies


Remember that babies like to hear a mom or dad’s voice, so start with books that rhyme or have some type of medley to the words. Nursery rhymes are a great resource. Simple stories and bright or bold illustrations will grab their attention. As the baby gets older and starts to grab, move to vinyl or cloth books. Board books are great for babies as they begin to hold things. There are also great texture books available for a child to touch and feel.


When to Break Out the Books

Don’t wait until the newest release is in the home library to start reading. The main thing is to just read. Try to find a little time every day to read. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests reading a book a day as early as six months. Remember, what works for one baby may not work for another. Try right before naptime or bedtime and if those don’t work consider times when the baby is fed and dry. Just keep trying a few different times before until the right combination is found. Keep it as close to that time as possible to help establish a routine.

Holding a Baby’s Attention While Reading

This is a time to bond , so get comfortable and cuddle with the baby. Don’t worry about reading the book word for word. Ask questions about the book every once in awhile, even though a child can’t answer yet. If there are characters or animals in the book, don’t be afraid to give them voices or make the actual animal sounds. If there’s a favorite book and a child responds to it, it’s okay to read it over and over again. On the same token, if the baby doesn’t appear to enjoy the book, stop reading it and try it another time.

Reading to babies plays a big part in their enjoyment of books and their literacy development. By knowing what to read, and when and how to read it, a child may develop a love for reading early. Make reading as fun as possible. Just relax and read.