Reading with your baby: 0-11 months

Reading to your baby is very beneficial. Reading every day helps build a healthy parent-child relationship because it’s an opportunity for one-on-one interaction. Kids who are read to every day have stronger language skills when they reach kindergarten, and are therefore more prepared to learn to read. You can read more about the importance of reading to your baby on our previous blog post. It might seem strange to think that your one month old is actually learning something, or absorbing something out of the reading time. Depending on your baby’s age, you can focus on different aspects of the reading experience, to make sure that he or she gets the most out of it!

Birth to three months old

Your baby can: At this stage, your baby can look at the book you are holding, listen to the sounds you make and begin to copy them and watch your facial expressions and begin to imitate them too. Observe your baby, is he or she smiling, cooing, or moving his or her hands? This means he loves reading time but remember that your baby can only pay attention for a minute or two at a time.

You can: Find a quiet place where you and your baby can cuddle up and read together. While reading, point at the pictures your baby is looking at and mention their names. It’s also great to act them out using facial expressions, different tones of voice, and hand gestures. Imitate the sounds your baby makes as if you were having a conversation, in a serve-and-return manner.

Four to five months old

Your baby can: Reach toward the book and pat the pictures in it, paying attention for only a few minutes at a time. Your baby probably copies some of the sounds and facial expressions you make while reading. Also, at this age, try to identify if your baby has a favorite book. See if he or she gets more exited about reading one specific book by smiling, squealing, or reaching towards it!

You can: Find a quiet place where you and your baby can cuddle up and read together. While reading, point at the pictures your baby is looking at and mention their names. It’s also great to act them out using facial expressions, different tones of voice, and hand gestures. Imitate the sounds your baby makes as if you were having a back-and-forth conversation.

Six to eight months old

Your baby can: Hold onto a book and explore it by feeling it, turning it, putting it to his or her mouth, and patting the pictures in it. At this age, your baby also can now copy some of the sounds you say and your facial expressions and gestures. Is your baby smiling or babbling? This means he loves reading time but remember that your baby can only pay attention for a few minutes at a time.

You can: Find a quiet place where you and your baby can cuddle up and read together. While reading, name and point at the pictures your baby is looking at. Also, at this age you can start helping your baby to turn the pages, trailing his interest. It’s also great to act out the stories using facial expressions, different tones of voice, and hand gestures. Imitate your baby’s sounds and also talk to him about the pictures in the book.

Nine to eleven months old

Your baby can: At this age, your baby can now reach for his favorite of two books you offer. Hold onto a book and explore it by feeling it, turning it, opening and closing it, and patting the pictures in it. At this age, your baby also can now copy some of the sounds you say and your facial expressions and gestures.

You can: Find a quiet place where you and your baby can cuddle up and read together. While reading, name and point at the pictures your baby is looking at, touching, or talking to. Respond to what catches his attention by talking about it! Help your baby to turn the pages, following his interest. It’s also great to act out the stories using facial expressions, different tones of voice, and hand gestures. Imitate your baby’s sounds and also talk to him about the pictures in the book, especially the ones he is interested in.


Get more information about the benefits of reading to your baby at all ages and a few resources you can use to help you along the way with the Books Build Connections Toolkit from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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