Scientific Proof Why You Should Read to Your Baby
It’s no secret that children often learn by our interactions with them. We may think that cuddling, singing, and playing with our babies are just simple bonding activities, but they are so much more than that. Many studies show that the more we talk to our babies, the more they learn. Communicating with your child is pivotal for his/her growth and development. One of the best ways to promote aural learning is to simply read to your child.
So, while it may seem silly to walk around Target humming songs, pointing out colors, or simply reading to an infant with no verbal communication skills of their own – do it. Babies learn about speech, language, and reading skills long before they actually begin to speak and read on their own.
Almost 90% of your child’s brain is developed by age five. There is no time like the present. Start talking, start reading.
Language skills start long before one speaks any words. Pre-linguistic is the stage in which children are learning to make sounds. They are experimenting with their own voice, figuring out how and what makes sounds. They generally create sounds in play: goo-goo, gah-gah kind of thing. While infants may not be the best conversationalists, they are active participants in learning; little sponges soaking up all the sounds around them.
The 5 Categories of Pre-Linguistic Sounds
- Pre-pre- linguistic learning. In-utero – Babies can hear sounds even inside the mother’s womb.
- 0-2 months: consists of natural sounds a baby makes – crying, burping, yawning
- 2-5 months: cooing and laughter or sounds a baby makes when they are happy. They are practicing sounds.
- 4-8 months: vocal play, stringing together sounds, usually consisting of just vowels or just consonants
- 6-13 months: baby babble. They start to produce sounds with consonants and vowels. The baby starts to understand he/she can make intentional sounds.
Backed by Science
Reading unlocks doors within your child’s brain – literally. New research suggests that when a child is read to, portions of their left brain are activated. These portions control understanding of words, concepts, and memory. Reading also helps to develop mental imagery, aka helping to visualize in their mind what is being read. In turn, this helps to create an active imagination. This is also an important skill to make the jump from picture books to chapter books, where one has to imagine what is taking place.
The more a child was read to, the more this portion of the brain grew and developed. Skills such as the ability to understand and apply words were vastly improved in children that were read to more. The brain changes so much between birth and 6 years, the most rapid growth at any stage of life. It is vastly important to capitalize on this growth.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading to your child as soon as they are born.
Benefits of Reading
- Bonding – One on one time is vitally important to your child’s growth and development. What better way to bond than to snuggle up with your babe and a good book.
- Social Skills – Reading helps to develop the natural use of language. Young readers better understand how to dictate sentences, form ideas, and communicate with others.
- Kindergarten Readiness – As stated above, the more a child is read to, the better their ability to process words and information. Reading aloud greatly improves a child’s vocabulary and reading comprehension skills.
The more you read, the more you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go. – Dr. Seuss
The advice is clear. Read to your child. Then read some more.Want to learn more about why reading is so important to young readers? Check out our article Early Literacy and the Importance of Reading to Young Children.
Photos: Ashley Wells
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Ashley lives in North Carolina, with her husband, 4 year old little girl and infant son. She has dreamed of being a SAHM since she was a little girl and now enjoys living out this dream by making everyday adventures with her two tiny sidekicks. She loves yoga, fitness, dark chocolate, and wine. She’s an organizer of playdates, preschool happenings, and girls night outs. She’s an encourager of making messes, finding passions, and dreaming the impossible.