Top tips on reading with your baby

When we become parents, many of us can't wait for the moment we can snuggle up and read with our little ones. Justine Smith, author of the Baby Touch Playtime book, explains the best ways to start reading with your baby

To a young baby, ‘reading’ means a special cuddle on mum’s lap, exploring a soft book. Hold baby snugly in the crook of one arm, facing outwards. Use the same arm to hold the book, keeping one hand free to turn the pages.

Start reading with a contented three month old baby, in a quiet place. Let your baby wave the book about, even taste it!

To babies, books are like toys and reading is play. Respond to your baby’s babbling in an exaggerated way - babies can hear individual sounds and copy them if they are distinct.

Once your baby sits up, choose light, sturdy board books with rounded corners, bright pictures and textures to feel. From 6 months, babies love lift-the-flap books. From nine months, introduce noisy sound books. Be guided by what makes reading fun for you both.

Use the pictures as well as the words. Babies learn by doing: put their hand to the pictures and say the words to help build vocabulary. Try asking questions about the pictures and answering them, with a fun, lively voice.

If older babies get wriggly, try physical play. Be relaxed about what books mean to a baby - a five minute bouncy sing-song game with an open book is still reading!

Find the books you like too - you’ll be reading them over and over again! Routine and repetition will make babies feel confident about participating. When toddlers happily tell you what’s coming over the page – they’re reading!

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Justine Smith is the author of  Baby Touch Playtime. This is full of brightly coloured pictures and lots of touchy-feely tactiles which babies will love to play with. It also has an accompanying DVD.

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