Approved by the What’s Up Moms Medical Advisory Board
You’ve heard it a million times: Read to your baby. You’re 100% on board. Theoretically, anyway. Because, well… your baby is a wriggling worm with the attention span of a fly. That is – you know that you should read to baby – you just don’t always know exactly how to do it. Fair enough.
The most important thing you can do is to just establish the habit of reading together at a regular time each day. If it’s carved into your evening routine, for instance, baby comes to expect it and can build capacity for it.
So here’s the deal. Baby’s gonna want to binge on the same handful of books over and over and over again. Like a Hungry Caterpillar bender! It’s crazymaking to you (and these books will haunt your dreams), but it’s actually totally developmentally normal. So steel thyself and just know that your little one loves the repetition and is actually learning from it.
As for rules of engagement, toss all standard etiquette out the window – your job is to go with the flow and follow baby’s lead. If she wants to move around while you read together, let her. If she wants to hold the book, turn it upside down, or stop in the middle, fine. In fact, if you never utter a single word of text, that’s fine, too – your baby doesn’t have an awareness of print. Reading together at this stage is more a chance to look at the book together and talk about what you see. So label things and make connections and ask questions (if baby can’t answer that’s OK.) If she makes a sound to mimic an animal or a train, make a sound too! If she’s super interested in a particular page, linger and talk about what you’re both noticing. Check out books with lift-the-flap, “lever,” pop-ups or otherwise interactive features.
Remember that every time you read with your child you’re sending a powerful message to her that 1) books are important, and 2) you have a special routine together around books. So it’s like you are saying two things to baby – “I love you” and “I love books.” That’s big.
Now go switch off your phone and settle in with baby for (yet another) go at The Hungry Caterpillar. Which you can recite by heart, of course.