Listening and Learning: How Reading Helps Babies in Development

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Listening and Learning: How Reading Helps Babies in Development

Planning for a new baby means lots of preparing and lots of purchasing! One thing UnityPoint Health Speech-Language Pathologist, Lindsey Rowley, says is not to forget to put books on the must-buy list. She says it’s never too early to begin reading to babies.

Benefits of Reading to Children

“Babies hear their mother’s voice from inside the womb. Although they don’t know what the words mean quite yet, a bond is established between the mother and baby,” Rowley says. “As the baby listens to the mother’s voice, he or she is hearing the rhythm, intonation and speech sounds of the language spoken, creating a foundation for speech and language development.”

After the baby is born, reading fosters the development of language, listening and pre-literacy skills. Rowley says activities such as reading with your child or playing together with age appropriate toys supports brain development and learning. She also says you don’t always need to read books word-for-word, and babies might also enjoy and learn just as much by hearing you comment on the pictures in the book

5 Things to Try While Reading to Babies

“Reading with your baby allows for interaction and communication between the baby and caregiver. It is dynamic, as the caregiver can tune into the baby’s interests and follow his or her lead,” Rowley says.

Rowley suggests five unique ways to engage your child while reading.

  1. Make sound effects for animals or vehicles in the pictures.
  2. Use different voices for different characters in the book.
  3. Sing some of the book.
  4. Emphasize predictable or repetitive lines in the story. Later on, your infant or toddler may anticipate these parts of try to join in.
  5. Add actions to the story or nursery rhymes.

Reading Creates a Special Bond

Not only does reading help promote intellectual development, it also creates a special shared bond with your child. Rowley suggests finding a special time to read, whether that be in the morning, after a diaper change or nap, while having a snack, during bath time or before bedtime.

“Regardless of when you take time to share books, making reading part of your daily routine promotes the enjoyment of reading and lifelong learning,” Rowley says.
If you have questions about reading with your child, make sure to reach out to your child’s UnityPoint Health pediatrician or primary care provider.