We all read to our babies. We all know that it’s critical to their development. But, if we’re being honest, story time with an infant can feel like a one-way street. The AAP offers some tactical advice for making the most of your story sessions at every phase of that all-important first year of life. We’ve summed up the highlights.
From birth to 3 months, the focus should be about strengthening your bond with baby, offering your undivided attention (put the iPhone down, mama), and encouraging enthusiasm about reading. Choose sturdy board books, and establish a comfortable reading spot. Name and point to the pictures, turn the pages following their cues, and act out what’s happening with your face, hands, and voice. The AAP also recommends copying the sounds your baby makes, and the looks on his face. “This kind of back-and-forth conversation lets your baby know you care about what he likes and how he feels.”
From 4-5 months, babies will be able to identify, and become excited about, favorite books. They’re likely to begin smiling and laughing, squealing, or reaching for their parent or the book to show that they want to continue reading, talking, and playing.
From 6-8 months, you can expect even more interaction from your baby during story time. They’ll begin to explore the book by feeling it, turning it upside down, or even taking a nibble. Don’t expect much in terms of attention span, though—a few minutes at a time is still the norm.
From 9-11 months, baby is likely to begin copying some of your sounds and gestures, and the faces that you make. Try offering them the option of two books, and they’ll probably be able to select a favorite.