Reading with infants
We’ve all heard how important it is to read with our little ones! For a lot of parents you want to instill the love of reading and this life-long skill your child will need far into their future. But you will soon learn that isn’t always the easiest task to achieve with babies and toddlers. So here’s my tips to help with this new challenge in your parenting life.
Keep the paper books for later
When your baby is new, they do lots of exploring and investigating with things in their mouth. So keep those precious paper books for later on in their childhood! Books made from fabrics, plastic or board books are best for first books.
Fabric books can have different textures and sounds when touched. We have one with a crinkly noise page that was a hit! Plastic books are great for having fun during water play or in the bathtub, but are also pretty immune to any dribble from your youngster. And board books are tough cardboard pages that are designed to last longer than ordinary paper with a baby. It may get a little worn around the edges, but the majority of the book will remain intact past the toddler stage!
When they sit still
At first if you are reading to your child, they will listen wide eyed to the story as you read and watch the pictures as you turn the pages. Try to use lots of expression to make it interesting and keep their attention (which won’t be for very long- 5 minutes can be enough!)
Independence leads to new skills
As your child gets older and learns how to do more things like holding and playing with toys, they will start to want to do some of the tasks in reading by themselves. They may wish to pick the book, to hold the book, turn the pages, or start at a certain point. Don’t worry too much about the storyline at this stage or the proper way to read a book- your child is just exploring and trying to copy and do what you have done with the book so far, but by themselves this time. Let them explore! It’s not going to hurt, and it does help maintain their love for books and reading later on.
Pace of reading
Look to your child for the pace you read your chosen book. Some days they might want to quickly flick through all the pages, so do a brief read of the pages. And other days they want to stare at the pictures on each page for several minutes. You can describe and talk about what is there, but sometimes they just like to quietly take in all that is on the page. There may even be days they want to do the book backwards. As your child grows older, they will get to the stage of wanting to listen the entire story in order. But it can take time! Be patient!
Hazards to books with children
Infants do tend to go through a stage of putting EVERYTHING in their mouth for a little while at least. And when teething, they find things to help relieve that pain. Corners of board books seem to be a favoured teething toy, especially in our house. Very few board books survived without at least one corned nibbled on!
Toddlers do like to walk around with their favourite items, including books. Watch out for access to the bathroom or toilet when they can walk, or you may find soggy books around the house.
Another danger factor is food! Smooshed up, half eaten food that somehow ends up on the books. Try to avoid mixing reading and eating. It never ends well!
Once they discover what books actually are, your child will notice them in other places around the house. If you want to keep any paper books safe, they will need to be placed out of reach (even from climbing..bookcases can be inviting climbing towers to the adventurous toddler!)
Enjoy this time
Finally enjoy the beginning of your child’s love affair with books and reading. Don’t be stressed if it’s a super quick session, or the opposite, they’re taking forever with pages. It all helps develop a fascination with the medium of reading! And they won’t be little forever. They do grow up and then no longer want a story read by you. Keep it interesting though, and that won’t be for many, many years!
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