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The Benefits of Reading to Babies from Birth

I’ve shared some tips for reading aloud with children, such as re-reading favorite books and creating a set time to read together every day. Reading aloud to children is so impactful to their success in school that every family should incorporate it, and it’s never too late to start. In this post, I look into why reading to your child from birth is so important, and not waiting for them to be older children or school age to start. Here a just a few of the numerous benefits to reading to your baby:

Increased Communication Skills

Most parents will testify that one of the most exciting (and possibly nerve-wracking!) experiences when bringing up a baby is the period when they are getting ready to utter their first word. We all want our baby to start talking to us as soon as possible, and it turns out that reading to them can help to accelerate the process. Early exposure to language and phonetic sounds can rapidly build your baby’s speech skills as their brains start to process the repetition. Parenting Coach Dr. Genevieve London recommends starting to read to your baby as soon as it is born!

Reading to foster communication skills isn’t just for infants, though. While a newborn’s brain is only a quarter the size of an adult one, by age five it has grown to almost ninety percent, and children learn more in the first five years of their life than any other time. This illustrates just how crucial those first five years in a child’s life are to their overall development – as their brain grows quickly, you’ll never have a better opportunity to nourish it with the core skills that will benefit them for the rest of their life.

If you could start over, wouldn’t you suck up as much knowledge and information as you could in your first five years to give yourself the best possible head start in life? It’s not possible to turn back the clock for ourselves, but you can do this very thing for your child.

Parent/Child Bonding

Having a young child can often feel like being on a rollercoaster. One minute you’re up here, the next you’re down there, then you’re over there, and then whoosh! – you’re on a different planet entirely! Maybe you’re in a fantasy land or being chased by a dinosaur! In these scenarios, sometimes it can be hard just to keep up. Reading a book with your child offers an amazing opportunity to spend quality time together in an environment where you can control the pace and the setting.

Having a set time every day (usually right before bed time) allows you to bring structure to your child’s routine – they know that this is reading time, and what’s more, they know that it’s their private time with just mommy or daddy. Alison David, author of Help Your Child Love Reading, says:

Reading is a really important element of family life. It provides a connection between you and your child from the very early days through to teens and beyond. It’s a strong ‘glue’ for your relationship, bringing you closer together through the sharing of reading and stories.

The stories you explore together will also create memories they will cherish forever. Some baby books, like those ones I found here, even allow you to personalize the story with your child’s name so that they can be the princess or the superhero!

Academic Performance and Future Earning Potential

One book that looks at the effect of reading on a child’s performance in school is The 90% Reading Goal. It states that, of children in third grade, three quarters of those reading below a second grade won’t graduate from high school. Linked to this is another statistic: graduating from high school equates to an additional $351,000 in earnings over a lifetime. This to me was quite alarming, the thought that how well an eight-year-old reads could affect potentially their entire life! This all proves just how vital reading to your baby is – if by grade three they end up getting left behind, they may never catch up.

Enriching a Personality

On top of everything else, one really important thing reading does is shape a child’s personality. Stories have been shown to help develop empathy, problem solving and imagination, amongst other traits. Reading time can also promote feelings of fun, happiness, security, comfort, reassurance and confidence. It can even help your child’s sleep patterns!
When raising a child, it goes without saying that all we really want as parents is for our children to grow up to be good people, and happy people. If reading to them during those early years can in any way help to achieve both those things (and the evidence suggests it does) then to me, it’s an absolute no-brainer.