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Reading & Language

Baby Reading Milestones

Baby with a book and blocksBirth to 6 Months Old
Newborns are calmed by the rhythmic sounds of lullabies and nursery rhymes. These will be their first stories. Your baby may even begin to recognize a song or rhyme if you repeat it often. By the time she is 4 months old, your baby will show an interest in books and start to explore them by chewing or throwing them. At this age, your baby needs sturdy vinyl or cloth books that can survive chewing and are not easily torn.

6 to 12 Months Old
During this period, babies become less interested in mouthing books and more interested in the story. You can promote your baby’s interest in books by looking at books with him and talking about the pictures, especially those that interest your baby. Invite your 8- or 9-month-old baby to turn the pages. If you are raising your baby to become bilingual, this is a good time to introduce objects to your baby and tell her the words for them in both languages.

12 to 18 Months Old
Babies delight in reading together with adults. Your baby will turn pages and name pictures of fams of familiar objects. She may begin to enjoy books that tell simple stories. Because babies are natural explorers, they love books like Pat the Bunny, which they can touch and sniff while listening to the story.

Encouraging Your Baby

  • Recite nursery rhymes and sing songs to your newborn. Early infancy is a good time to begin reciting nursery rhymes and singing rhyming songs. She will feel comforted by the rhythmic sounds of rhymes and songs and feel a close connection to you as you sing and talk to her.
  • You can introduce books to your baby at around 4 months. At this stage, babies become interested in objects. Because babies explore by touching, grabbing, and shaking, buy sturdy books that lend themselves to such use. Early on, vinyl and cloth books are easy to chew. At the age of 6 months, board books are ideal because your baby is able to get his small fingers between the thick pages and experiment with turning them.
  • When you read, point out the pictures. Although you can read the story, most babies will be more interested in looking at the pictures and turning the pages than in hearing you read a story. Even older babies may be more interested in asking, “What’s that?” to pictures in a book than in hearing an entire story. Don’t worry if your baby loses interest before you look at all the pages. Reading a little bit on a regular basis is more important than reading for extended periods of time.
  • Around your baby’s first birthday, establish a regular reading routine. At this age, many babies will enjoy looking at a specific book that has been read over and over, whether it be Pretty Brown Face or Pat the Bunny. Making a habit of reading together is one of the best ways to encourage a lifelong love of reading. And, babies can go the library and enjoy story hour!
  • Next: Learn more about how babies explore writing.

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