The Benefits of Reading Out Loud to Infants

The Benefits of Reading Out Loud to Infants

From the moment your baby enters the world, they start learning. For newborns, every moment and every interaction is an opportunity to learn something new. As parents, there is no better way to help foster this type of learning than by reading to your baby. While infants may not have the capacity to understand stories or follow plot lines, there are so many wonderful, life-long benefits that can come with reading out loud to babies, and it is never too early to get started.

When Should I Start Reading to My Baby?

No matter how old your baby is, now is the right time to start reading. Studies have found that babies recognize their mother’s voice while they are in the womb, so you don’t even have to wait until your baby arrives to begin reading to them.

Above all things, reading to your baby is an opportunity to bond with your child. This is invaluable one-on-one time, where your baby can spend time in your arms, cuddle, make eye contact and hear your voice.

This is time without phones or distractions and is an invaluable bonding opportunity that you can continue to maintain as your baby grows.

What are the Benefits of Reading to Infants?

Sitting down and reading with your baby is a fantastic way to start building your child’s language skills. Infants may not be able to read or comprehend the words that you are saying, but you are helping them build a strong foundation for their future language and literacy skills.

Infancy is such an important time during a child’s development, and regular reading can help reinforce new connections in your child’s brain. As they develop a richer language experience, infants will also start to learn about colors and shapes as reading exposes them to different visuals. They learn about emotions through the spoken word and over time you will start to see your child respond to the sound of your voice as you read.

Many infants begin to move their legs and arms and respond to the sound and movement in your voice. These are the building blocks to learning social skills and developing positive social interactions, and they are skills that can help your child through the rest of their life.

What Should I Be Reading to My Baby?

Choosing the right materials is paramount when it comes to reading to your baby. The good news is there is no wrong type of book for your infant, as long as you are reading from an actual book and not from a computer, tablet or mobile device.

There are so many benefits that come from pointing to pictures and learning to hold and touch the book and even turning pages. Plus, books that are chewable or can be brought in the tub can quickly become a baby’s favorite toy helping them build stronger, positive associations with reading.

This, of course, means avoiding eBooks. Parents often give their children phones and tablets so they can play games and entertain themselves as a way to stay quiet. This is not what reading to your baby is about. It can be so difficult for children to differentiate between reading books on a phone and playing games—and infants won’t be able to tell the difference between a book and Angry Birds. Starting your child’s life by reading to them from a phone or tablet will only make it harder to differentiate between the two.

Reading doesn’t have to stop at books either. Read your grocery list, a letter in the mail or the recipe that you are using at dinner time. Just maintain eye contact and keep it fun! After all, your child won’t realize they are being read the recipe for banana bread, no matter how excited they seem. They are responding to the human interaction. The constant verbal stimulation and the exposure to new words, sounds, emotions and inflections will only benefit your child and the way they interact with the world moving forward.

If you have questions about newborn care or if you haven’t chosen your child’s pediatrician, we would like to discuss any concerns you may have regarding your child. You can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at