What to Read to Make a Baby Smart
December 16, 2008 by SmarterBaby
It’s no secret that reading to your baby is good for her. Reading early on fosters a love of books and stimulates early language development and the beginnings of speech. Reading time becomes a special bonding experience, and babies enjoy the close time with their parents. But what do you read to make your baby smart? Babies have different needs as they grow.
Birth to 3 Months—Anything Goes: When reading to an infant before the age of 3 months, it doesn’t matter what you read! Read the “Wall Street Journal” or “People” magazine—your baby won’t care. Babies not able to follow the plot or action in a book. They are simply listening to your cadence and the rhythm of your voice and enjoying being close.
Board Books: By 4 months of age, your baby will begin to reach for and grasp objects—including books! Use board books with repetitive language structure and bright, meaningful illustrations and pictures. Babies can feel free to put their hands and mouths on these books.
Nursery Rhymes, Melodies and Repetition: As babies grow, they become more responsive to the sounds of language. Reading books with interesting rhythms, melodies and repetition and patterned language are just right for them. Babies love familiar words, and books with phrases that repeat will delight them. Babies are also becoming attuned to facial expressions and features and love if you “act out” your stories with voice inflections and expressions. Young babies also love to see objects they encounter in their daily lives—teddy bears, ducks, beds and dogs are all favorites. Nursery rhymes are great starters since they incorporate all of these ideas.
Baby’s Favorites: As your baby grows, you may find he picks a few favorites. Read them—again and again! Using the same voice each time you read the familiar words will provide the repetition your baby craves. Babies learn from repetition, so while you may be bored, your baby is learning and soaking it all in.
Your Favorites: Read some of your old favorites. What’s most important at this stage is exposure to books, language, words and the special time that comes from reading together. By the time your baby reaches 12 months of age, she may begin to turn pages for you, point out her favorite objects and pictures and even imitate sounds and expressions you’ve made along the way. What is really important is that you’re reading—not necessarily what you’re reading.
Lara Alspaugh is a freelance writer living in Michigan. She is a Registered Nurse and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Michigan State University. Her writing has been found in parenting and fitness magazines nationwide and the Internet, addressing health and fitness as well as wellness concerns of families.