Reading with your baby
Written by Jess Cooper, Speech Pathologist at Southern Highlands Speech Pathology
We are often asked by parents “when should you start reading to your baby?”. The answer is to start reading today! Reading with your baby can be one of the most valuable activities that you do together. It has the potential to develop their language through expanding their vocabulary as well as their understanding of new concepts. It also improves social communication skills, such as turn-taking, joint attention and eye contact. Recent research from infants from as young as 3 months old has shown that regular storybook reading can lead to significantly stronger language and social communication skills by the time they are 2 years old.
Here are a few strategies to maximise language development opportunities during your next story time:
- Choose age appropriate books: For babies choose picture books with no more than 1-2 short sentences per page. Textured books and lift-the-flap books provide great interactive elements to support learning. A good example is the ‘Spot’ series.
- Get face-to-face: Make sure you are at eye-level with your baby so they can see your face and expressions when reading. This helps develop eye contact and joint attention.
- Use the book as an opportunity to have a conversation with your baby: Encourage your baby to have a turn (this might just be babbling or pointing).
- If you don’t read every word in the book it’s ok. Make up your own story about the pictures and respond to what your baby showing you. Relate the story to everyday activities.
- Be consistent!
Brown, M. I., Westerveld, M. F., Trembath, D., & Gillon, G. T. (2018). Promoting language and social communication development in babies through an early storybook reading intervention. International journal of speech-language pathology, 20(3), 337-349.