Belinda Joyce

Belinda Joyce

Reading to your baby from an early age is beneficial for many reasons. In fact, it is never too early to start, some parents start even before they are born, reading to their unborn baby. It is never too late to start either and babies of all ages love being read to.

Benefits to reading to Babies:

  • It’s a great chance for some quiet time together, perfect for reducing stimulation prior to sleep time.
  • It can also be a great chance to sing along, talk in rhymes, make a lot of noise with animal noises.
  • Helps to teach communication skills.
  • It’s great to let your baby know that reading is a normal and enjoyable daily activity.
  • Your baby will learn how a book works and that you start at the beginning and turn pages from right to left and work your way from front to back.
  • Teaches babies more about the world than what they see day to day – different animals, environments for example.
  • Reading to your baby is another form of play and we want them to think books are fun!
  • Reading promotes speech and literacy, those books with lots of repetition are fantastic as your toddler will think they are reading but will be using their memory.
  • Introduces many new words into their vocabulary, hearing more words as a baby means they will be able to talk better and earlier.
  • Gradually as your baby grows, reading will teach them about communication and concepts such as colours, shapes, letters, words, and numbers.
  • Reading promotes brain development as well as imagination
  • It encourages pointing and discussing the story and pictures which is also good for social development.
  • Social and emotional development is increased by hearing you read stories with different emotions and sounds.

You don’t need any special skills to read to a baby, you don’t even need to be a good reader yourself as your baby won’t know! Simply pointing to the pictures and telling them what you see. If you point to an animal, making the noise can be fun.

Great books for Babies:

  • Touch and feel books – different textures, shiny fabrics, squeaking areas, mirrors
  • Books with simple pictures of faces, children, and babies
  • Board Books – sturdy and won’t be damages as easily when baby mouths them
  • Fabric books
  • High contrast black and white with pops of colour books
  • Plastic bath books
  • Lift the flap books-the element of surprise
  • Books with ribbons
  • Any book is a good book!

Newborn babies love black and white books, other high contrast colours work well too as they are easier for them to focus on. Some pops of colour are enjoyed as well. They love books with faces, children, and babies in them. Give your baby plenty of time on each page to let them focus well.


Libraries have amazing babies and children’s areas with many books that you can borrow. Don’t worry if you r little one damages a book, let them know when you return it and they will either fix it or replace it, they would prefer the books were used. They are free to borrow, and you can go back and change them often.

Having a few small books in the nappy bag can be very helpful when you’re waiting for appointments or in the car.

I suggest aiming for reading one book a day, sometimes you won’t read any and other times they will want more. Turn off other distractions such as the TV and other electronic devices.

I used to read to my babies after they had a daytime nap, they enjoyed lying down with me and sharing that special time. It gave them a chance to gradually wake up in a quiet environment, we rarely stopped at one. There were favourites that they loved over and over again…I admit I was sometimes ready to move on before them!

If your baby has had enough and isn’t enjoying the book feel free to stop and try another book later or tomorrow. We want it to be fun, we want them to enjoy books.

Having some books on a low shelf can be helpful as your baby learns to crawl and sit up. They can then ‘read’ a book whenever they want. They will learn to bring a book to you in time and then you can offer to read it together.

By spending some time reading to your baby, you are benefitting their literacy development and so much more. Your baby will likely grow up to value books and the information within them and have a joy of reading themselves, this will stay with them for life.