Reading to Babies before Birth
Jun 16, 2022
Reading to babies
(Author Ms.Nithya Ramachandran - Montessori Guide and Consultant)
Reading to a newborn baby might sound absurd. You might be wondering – but do they even understand what I am saying? Aren’t they too young for this? Do they need this right now? Can’t books wait until later?
Unconventional though as it may sound, babies really enjoy books – if the right book is read to them in the right way and at the right time. The way a baby experiences your read aloud might not look like how their older sibling responds to you, however, be assured that they are absorbing things in their own way, and it has myriad benefits for them and your relationship with them.
You may even begin reading to your baby even while they inside the womb. Research shows that the sense of hearing develops in-utero, at around 7 months. When you read to your baby in-utero, they get used to your voice and it serves as a point of comfort after birth. Your voice and the book will be familiar and calm the baby when they are overwhelmed by the new world they have come into.
You may begin reading to your baby even while they are inside the womb, Around 7th Month of pregnancy
Choose any book that soothes you and comforts you – perhaps your favourite children’s book, or a book that you would want to read to you child once they are born. At this stage, it isn’t so much about the visuals or design but your tone and volume that’s important while you read.
Just read out loud whenever you are comfortable or whenever you feel your baby is most active. You can also ask a sibling or your partner to read to the baby. Different family member can take turns doing this. You can even make it into a bedtime ritual that can continue even after the baby is born.
Birth to 6 months
- Black and white board books
- High contrast board books
- Fabric Books
- Texture Books
- Photo albums of family members
Make reading a part of your everyday routine and read whenever your baby shows interest. You can also stand the book up on the floor during tummy time. Your baby may engage by grabbing the book, try to mouth it and turn the pages – let them explore through all these ways. During this stage, don’t be too bothered about finishing the book or telling the story and instead use this time to familiarize you baby with books and bond with them.
Benefits of reading to your child
- Reading to your baby aids in cognitive development and puts them on the early path to becoming readers.
- When you read to your infant or toddler, the time you spend together helps in building early attachment which is crucial for healthy psychological development.
- Reading aloud is the foundation of language development. Infant and toddlers are going through a receptive stage of language development which means that even before they speak, they are listening and internalizing all the words they hear.
- Reading aloud exposes children to characters, vocabulary and ideas that may not come up in everyday conversations.
- Listening to rhythmic reading helps children understand speech patterns and make important synaptic brain connections.
- The illustrations in the book help in comprehension and art appreciation.
- Reading with different tones and voice modulation helps your baby’s emotional and social development.