So you already know why it is important to read to your baby. But the quintessential question arrives- how do you go about it? Fortunately for you, I made a list.
1. Go by your child, not the clock
This is a universal rule applicable for almost every situation, no? So there are going to be days (sometimes stretching for weeks), when your baby would be interested in the book for 30 seconds, and sometimes it may stretch to half an hour. Either ways, follow your baby’s lead.
2. The surrounding
Have a dedicated reading corner. It helps if you have a routine, probably before sleep-time. But then again, follow your child’s lead.
Ensure that there are no other distractions or loud noises to over stimulate your baby.
Although we had a reading corner and started out reading in the morning and before sleep, owing to the house filled with my books, we sometimes picked them up at any point of time too, including, during travel.
Goes without saying, choose a position comfortable to both of you- where your baby has a good view of the book, and yet is close to you. Baby V loved to sit on my lap and be read to. On some days, during tummy time, I’d lie down next to her on my tummy, place the book in front if us, and let her explore.
4. The actual business
Now that you have the ambiance and baby ready, how do you actually read to him?
- Don’t worry about reading out the sentences. You can just make up your own words and stories. Right now, its more about bonding and getting familiarized with books than actual syntax of reading.
- Make sure you point out illustrations on the book with your fingers, and sometimes guiding your child’s fingers to do the same.
- Make your reading as dramatic and rhythmic as possible. Use a lot of gestures and voice modulation. Scream, giggle, roar, make funny voices and noises.
- Use plenty of repetition.
- Feel free to use props if needed. Finger puppets and soft toys make wonderful props.
- Also, make it an interactive experience. ( ” wow, what a big ball this is! Do you see the ball too?”) Although he can’t answer back yet, he’ll soon be cooing and babbling along.
- Just speak to your child. And most importantly, do not restrict yourself to English. Feel free to improvise in your native tongue too.
5. Bonus tips
Give plenty of space to your baby to explore the book on his own too. Board books and fabric books, therefore, make an excellent choice at this stage.
Give him a choice. Either about the time to read or the book to read.
Children learn through imitation- even if they are only a few months old. Go ahead and let him see you read too.
And of course, we arrive at our last question- What do we read?
Watch out for the next in this series for a list of must-have books for 0-1 year old, that wont burn a hole in your pocket.