Reading to Babies

When do I start reading to my child?

We all want the best for our children. If our kids are happy, healthy and doing well, then life is good. Our children are born with 100 billion neurons in their brains, and the key development stage is from birth through to age 8. During this time, our kids’ brains are a hive of electrical activity, with brain cells and neurons making connections at astonishing speeds of up to two million connections in a minute.

What can we do to make sure that our children are developing the required skills for them to succeed at school and at life? Reading with our children is the single most important activity that you can undertake to develop a child’s future reading and writing skills. Reading aloud to children also supports their development in other ways – it provides intensive language exposure and supports language development, promotes parent-child bonding and socialisation, and helps parents relate positively to their children.

It doesn’t matter what you read. It can be books, newspapers, magazines, comics, street signs, catalogues or shop signs. Your child will develop important skills that will enable them to thrive at kinder and school.

So when do we start? You should begin reading to your babies from birth, or at the very least, from 3 or 4 months of age.

Children love the sound of your voice, and soon enjoy the pictures and stories contained in books. Nursery Rhymes and singing songs are also great ways to help your child’s brain develop.

Books are a great present for children, so if you are a parent, an aunt or uncle, grandparent or friend and you can’t think of what to get for a birthday or Christmas, then a book is a great option.

Here are some great tips for reading to infants aged around 4 months to 12 months. These tips from the Royal Children’s Hospital Let’s Read program are helpful for older babies as well.

Whe reading with babies, they like:

  • being close to you
  • watching your face and lips move
  • hearing the sound of your voice
  • listening to different sounds and music
  • hearing same words, rhymes and stories over and over again
  • looking at books with colours, faces and pictures of other babies
  • touching and tasting books

How you can help your baby grow into a strong reader:

  • smile and hold your baby close so they can see your face and the book
  • copy the sounds your baby makes e.g. “da-da-da”
  • help your baby bounce and move to the rhythm of your voice or music
  • talk or sing about what you are doing when caring for your baby
  • notice what your baby is looking at and name it
  • share stories with your baby in the language you feel most comfortable with
  • start at the front of a book—you don’t have to finish it, a few pages is great!
  • keep books in easy reach of your baby
  • join the library—it’s free and fun. We have got great libraries right across the Wimmera Mallee and they have lots of books for you to borrow. You will be made very welcome and your local librarian will help you select some great books for you and your children.