mother and child laying on floor reading a bookPhotos of your little one from birth to her first birthday show the dramatic changes she experiences. But it isn’t just your baby’s body that grows significantly in the first year. Brain development occurs rapidly, too, and reading aloud to your child significantly impacts her progress.

Reading aloud is an important form of stimulation that is critical to a child’s development. By the time babies reach their first birthday they have learned the sounds needed to speak their native language. So it makes sense – the more stories you read aloud, the more words your child is exposed to, helping her to talk better.

But in addition to building communication skills, what are some of the other benefits of reading to your baby?

  • Fostering social and emotional development. Your child will notice the different emotions and expressive sounds you use when telling the story.
  • Promoting social development and thinking skills. With a story your child is invited to look, point, touch, babble and ask questions.
  • Introducing important concepts in a fun way. Learning about numbers, letters, colors and shapes is more enjoyable when done in the context of a story.
  • Making a connection between you and books. A parent is the most important person in a baby’s life. Spending time reading to your child gives you both special bonding time around a valuable activity. If you show an interest in reading, your child is more likely to as well.

There’s more to reading aloud than sitting down with your baby and a book. Set aside specific times each day to read (before bed and naptime are favorites). Find a spot to hold your baby while reading so she can feel safe, warm and connected. Read with expression – try different voices for different characters. Don’t worry about following the text exactly; it’s okay to stop and ask questions or make comments about pictures on the page.

Most importantly – enjoy story time! Nurturing a love of reading now lays the foundation for enjoying this lifelong activity that stimulates a healthy brain.