The importance of reading to your baby

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The importance of reading to your baby: Find out why you should be reading to your baby — even when she's still in your womb.

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Read to your baby — it’s one of the most important things you could ever do to help your child learn!

The importance of reading to your baby

Remember how you felt the first time your secret crush looked at you?

That is nothing compared to your baby’s gaze — when he looks at you eye to eye, you probably feel like you’re in heaven.

Naturally, you feel compelled to talk to him. It’s an automatic reaction — as if your baby is expecting you to interact with him, which he actually is, by the way!

In those moments, your “googoo-gaga” or the cute but utterly senseless “dah-dah-dah-dah, baby?” or “ ah-ba-ba-ba-ba…” babble will not be enough. Neither are those endless games of “peekaboo,” or “eat bulaga” for us Pinoys.

The truth is, it’s always best to use real words when talking to your baby. You can also introduce language — the type of language that we adults actually use — to your little one by reading books to her.

Now, if you have been talking to your baby and reading to her while she was still inside your womb, you may be surprised to discover a few things, especially this:

She remembers your voice!

According to the latest scientific findings, babies can already learn to recognize words while they’re still in the womb. Your baby can have dreams, taste the food that you eat, and even start hearing by the end of the second trimester. In fact, he can distinguish the voice of his mom (that’s YOU!) from another person.

Research also shows that a fetus’ heart rate slows down when his mother is speaking – this means he is calmed by his mother’s voice. Furthermore, the fetus responds to a familiar story (a story that has been repeatedly read to him while he’s inside the womb) and he prefers to listen to it over a new story read to him after birth.

Although there are no scientific findings to show that your baby appreciates the stories that you read, reading to your baby (especially if you start while he is still inside your womb) becomes his first social encounter with you – your first ‘bonding session,’ so to speak.

Your voice becomes one of the first stimuli that your baby can identify with. It makes perfect sense then that reading to your baby helps him learn who you are, and how important he is to you.

If you are unsure about how to go about reading to your baby, go to the next page for some tips.

Tips for reading to your baby

• Pick a book that will become your baby’s favorite. Don’t worry if your baby prefers you to read 1 book to him over and over — that’s one way babies learn, by repetition.

Also, don’t insist on introducing new books if it is not welcomed. You should also keep reading to your baby even if he may not even understand anything – he just loves to hear the sound of your voice, and the familiarity of the words read to him.

• For starters, pick a book that has simple, repetitive words. It would be better if the words rhyme, so you can read it in a sing-song voice.

You would also want to pick books with simple and large pictures of familiar objects against solid backgrounds. It would also help if you had board books that could survive the baby’s hands, spit, and bites.

Of course, as with most everything else, you’d need to make sure that your baby’s books are always clean as he would always want to put them in his mouth.

• When reading to your baby, you don’t always have to start from the first page. You can immediately go to your baby’s favorite page.

Take note that you don’t have to finish the book in every sitting, too. Remember, your baby still does not understand the whole story.

• Don’t forget to use exaggerated voice expressions when reading to your baby — use different voices for different story characters, make animal sounds when appropriate, or say “chug-chug-chug… tooot! toot!” when you’re reading about a train.

• When reading, you don’t have to totally leave everything to what the author has written. You may interrupt the story every now and then to interact with your baby (this is especially so if the baby can already respond or point).

For example: You can say (while pointing to a picture of a duck), “See? There goes the duck…Where’s the duck? Yes…that’s the duck. It goes, ‘Quack, quack!’ What’s the sound of the duck?”

Raise your baby to be a reader

The first 5 years of a human being’s life are a time of incredible growth and learning. Constantly reading to your baby helps give him his first encounter with words, colors, numbers, letters and shapes, and imprints these concepts in his mind.

As your baby grows, so should his love for reading and books, which will help him expand his knowledge of the world around him. Thus, the ultimate goal behind reading to your baby should be this: that he grow to be a reader, ‘in love’ with the written word.

Do you have tips to share when it comes to reading to your baby? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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