Start the read-aloud habit early with these tips on how to read aloud with your baby (plus some favorite books for multiple ages and stages).
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How To Read Aloud with Your Baby
If you want to develop the love of reading in your tiny baby, there is no better time to start reading aloud together than today! Reading aloud is filled with benefits for your baby, toddler, and (future) older child. In this post, I share some quick tips for getting started and favorite books to read together too.
Choose a Few Books to Read Aloud with Your Baby
You can really read any book you like with your baby. Inevitably you’ll end up with a large variety of books from baby showers etc. and many of these can be enjoyed by babies of all ages. Sometimes you’ll just simply read the book a little differently depending on the age of your baby.
I do however recommend starting with board books! Even if baby isn’t yet reaching for the pages, the smaller format of (most) board books is a lot easier to read with a baby than the unwieldy picture books for older kids. If you are just starting out with your little library, here are some our favorites by age!
About ages: Note that there are absolutely no hard and fast rules about which book works for what age–just read plenty of variety with your baby and enjoy discovering their favorites!
Babies 0-3 Months
For very young babies (about 0-3 months), keep it simple with high contrast books and short board books. Though we’d page through just about any board book at this age, we really liked books like Hello Baby Animals: A High-Contrast Book, Peek a Who!, and Moo Baa La La La.
Babies 4-6 Months
When my now-toddler was a bit older (say 4-6 months) we pulled out favorites like Ten Little Fingers, Ten Little Toes, Little Red Barn, Global Babies, I Love You As Big as the World and Sandra Boynton’s The Going-To-Bed-Book.
As your little one continues to grow, they will love interacting more with their books. Crinkly or chewable books are excellent. Indestructibles are a must have as they are fantastic for chewing, crinkling, and crumpling. Plus, they can go right into the dishwasher!
Babies love looking at babies and children in their books, so in the midst of all the adorable animal character books, don’t forget to fill your shelves with plenty of books with children too! Global Babies and Baby Talk are two of our favorites.
We also love Rain Feet by Angela Johnson and the other titles in this series. These are super short books, but my toddler still requests them years later. Don’t feel like you have to stop reading short books to your baby just because they are growing older. Sometimes all they want is the same book three or four times in a row!
Babies 6-12 Months
Babies aged 6-12 months will certainly enjoy short stories like Sheep in a Jeep and Dear Zoo. Don’t miss out on slightly longer stories and books with plenty of action: Jamberry, Little Blue Truck, Press Here, Bear Snores On, B is for Baby, etc. as baby continues to learn and grow.
Have your books ready, find a cozy spot, pick up your well-fed, well-slept baby and simply start reading.
You can place baby on your lap and read the book in front of him. Or, you could both lay on the floor (great for really young babies) and hold the book above you.
You can also sit with your back against a couch or similar and place baby in your lap facing you. Create a little back rest for baby with your knees and hold the book off to the side so that baby can see the book and your face!
Don’t Expect Too Much Right Away
When reading to an infant (or even a toddler) sometimes there will be interest, sometimes not. Don’t sweat it! We’re laying the foundation for a lifetime of reading…not expecting baby to request Jane Austen just yet!
Though you may not read every day with a young baby yet, start developing the habit. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests reading aloud every day to your little ones. Before you know it, baby will start picking their own books and delivering them to you when it’s time to read.
Finding a consistent time or two during the day to read together is a great habit to get into. This can continue as baby grows up and you begin reading chapter books with your now older child.
As with any other habit, making a task part of our routine makes it far more likely we will actually accomplish the desired task. Brushing teeth before bed or starting coffee in the morning requires little thought to accomplish because these tasks have been programmed into our day.
You can do the same with starting a read aloud habit. If you have time in the mornings, reading first thing is great. Before naps works too. And of course, reading bedtime stories is a great activity for winding down.
Babies love consistency and they will come to anticipate read-aloud time as they grow.
Keep It Fresh
Every parent has likely experienced the feeling of dread when you realize that your toddler has once again requested *that* book…for the fourth time today. Well, this is no guarantee, but offering lots of choices will hopefully entice your little one to branch out a bit.
You can even rotate your book collections so things stay fresh for both you and baby.
Introduce Baby to your Childhood Favorites
One of the things parents look forward to with raising children is the opportunity to share the things they love with their children. Whether ice cream, baseball, a favorite movie, etc. we look forward to sharing our own favorites with our little ones. Books are something you can share almost right away.
Ask your parents what you liked to read when you were a baby (hey, maybe they even saved a few!). If they don’t remember, one of these classic books might have been in the mix: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Goodnight Moon, Corduroy, Goodnight Gorilla, Going On a Bear Hunt, etc.
Go Off Script
Sometimes children’s books are shockingly long. Or at least it feels that way! You realize that adorable board book you picked for your 6-month-old is actually best suited to a child aged 2 or 3.
When this happens, don’t be afraid to go off script. You can often shorten the story as you read, exchange appropriate animal sounds for lengthy text, or just point out objects or colors.
Older babies will want to turn pages, say words with you, or lift the flaps in their books. Allow this to happen and enjoy watching your baby learn!
I suggest making sure you have a copy of the Priddy Baby First 100 Animals book (or others from those collections). We have the large board book edition and it makes for endless conversations as we talk about the different animals together. ZooBorns! is another adorable animal book to try.
Choose Interactive Books to Read Aloud with Your Baby
Not all books need to be interactive of course, but they certainly are fun! For the one-year-olds or younger pick up a copy of Peek a Who? or Where’s the Giraffe?. Each of these books feature a mirror at the end which babies get a kick out of.
For older toddlers, be sure to grab a copy of Press Here. It’s an excellent interactive read where littles are encouraged to press, shake, tap, and more to get the book to transform as the pages turn. We also like the Lit for Little Hands series for the variety of interactive elements like flaps, windows, and wheels.
And what about singing? Pick up some board books that feature favorite nursery rhymes and sing with your baby–they will love it!
Teach About Caring for Books
Reading together is a great way to teach about the value of books and how we can care for them. We can model putting books away when we are finished, turning pages gently, and even how to share books with others (whether “reading” to a younger sibling or perhaps choosing a gift for a friend).
Save Baby’s Favorites
This is of course optional, but those early read-aloud days go by quickly. Consider saving a few of your little one’s very favorite books for them with their other baby mementos. And, while you’re at it, ask someone to take a pic of you reading aloud with your baby. You’ll love having those memories recorded!
Enjoy these sweet moments as you read aloud with your baby!