When pregnant with Ben, I would look at all the sweet parenting magazine pictures (the ones with the plump, very still babies, who have no stains on their clothes) and imagine Ben and I cuddling together reading books. But then reality hit, and I learned that babies are more interested in exploring the Tupperware cabinet than reading books. And, any interest that young babies have in books usually consists of trying to tear apart the spine while ingesting small scraps of torn pages.
Being a bookish family, I’m not worried about my children not loving books. But, I did have to loosen up my expectations and creatively figure out how I could sneak in a book or two. Here is what I came up with!
|My busy baby Grace reading books!|
10 Tips for Reading Books to Busy Babies
- Read when your baby wants to be held, not when he/she wants to play. Before bedtime or right after a nap works best for my kids.
- Let go of the reading rules. Babies don’t want to look at the pages in order. Sometimes they don’t even want to hold the book the right direction. Gently lead,but don’t stress about reading the book just right.
- Buy books that are meant to be used not displayed. I buy most of our board books from yard sales and thrift shops. Of course, I try to teach Grace to not rip the books (or eat them), but I love it that I can recycle them guilt-free when they are worn to pieces.
- Store books where they are easily accessible. We keep a small basket of our baby board books stowed in the living room, a bag of free kid’s meal books in the car, and the nicer books on a bookshelf in Ben’s room.
- Go to the library for preschool reading programs. The library is a wonderful resource to introduce your baby to the world of books. Our local library has two programs designed for babies where they read, sing, and toddle freely. Your library probably has a similar program.
- Make reading a quality experience not a mere educational activity. Cuddle, rock, and sing when you read to your baby before bed. If your baby is in a playful mood, encourage your baby to interact with the book (e.g. making corresponding animal noises or pointing at the pictures).
- Don’t insist on reading every word or looking at every page. If your baby is too young to understand the story, just point to colorful parts of the book and talk about the book rather than reading it. Realize that your baby may want a different book every thirty seconds.
- Board books with colorful illustrations, simple text, and interactive pages appeal best to young babies. (Watch my blog for post with a list of suggestions!)
- Don’t worry about whether your baby “understands” the book or not. Just your baby hearing the sounds of words, looking at pictures, and interacting with you will teach language skills.
- Don’t force it! A lack of interest in books today does not mean your child will refuse to read later. Try again a different day.
Update: For more information on how to adapt your reading styles to the developmental stage that your baby is at, check out this excellent series written by a speech pathologist via Inspiration Laboratories (Thanks to Trish for sharing this with us via comment!): Focus on Reading
Also, thank you Kim for sharing her great list with us at The Educator’s Spin On It!
Read part 2: Recommended Books for Busy Babies: Over 25 books!
Do you have any tips to add to this list? What books have your children enjoyed as babies? Check back later to see my busy baby book list!