language development: how to read to a baby

Language Development: How to Read to Infants

Infants have a very short attention span. It’s best to look at books frequently for short periods. Start with short sessions of a few minutes at a time, spread at intervals throughout the day. As the child’s powers of concentration improves, gradually lengthen the time you spend reading together. From about 12 months, try to set up regular reading times. Maybe first thing in the morning, before a nap or at bedtime. Bedtime stories often become an important part of a child’s routine and if properly established will be continued long after children are able to read for themselves.

To start, find a comfortable reading space. Hold the child in your lap and let him or her sit comfortably with you.  Let them touch and feel the book. As you read, look at each page in turn. Give the child time to look at the pictures. Wait for them to ‘talk’ or point at things that interest them, and respond when they do.  Point to the pictures on the page, say the names of objects and describe what you can see. You can later even act out things for them. Add character to the ‘character’s. It’s also good to ask a lot of questions, along the way such as ‘Where’s the Dog? Can you see his big nose? ‘ even though you will have to answer the question yourself. When they lose interest put the book away.

language development: how to read to a baby


  • Studies show that women often read to children more than men do. It’s important particularly for boys that dads, of other male relatives read to children as often as they can.
  • Wipe the books clean regularly as at this age, they are likely to chew and bite the books.

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