A newborn typically:
- Listens and reacts to voices,
music and other sounds.
- Enjoys the beat and tone of your voice
while listening to stories.
- Responds to words, rhymes and songs by
cooing, gurgling and smiling.
- Bonds with you—becomes emotionally close.
A 6-12 month old typically:
- Puts books in his or her mouth.
- Reaches for books and pats pictures.
- Plays with sounds and babbles.
- Waves arms and kicks feet to show excitement.
- Enjoys reading with a favorite person.
A 12-18 month old typically:
- Understands and says simple words.
- Answers “where is” questions by pointing.
- Understands and reacts to hand movements,
faces, and changes in tone of voice.
- Turns pages of sturdy books.
- Likes having the same books repeated.
As you read to your baby:
Hold your little one on your lap and snuggle; use a lot of eye contact and voice inflection. Smile, relax and enjoy. Let your baby know you think books and reading are pleasurable. You are promoting brain development as you read, sing and talk to your baby.
At this age, your child needs to hear language and experience its rhythm, rhyme, vocabulary and syntax. Slow down and enunciate each word clearly. Don’t rush; it’s okay to linger on a page if the baby is interested.
Your child is also absorbing the social context of your interaction—cheerfulness and pleasure. Positive emotions and experiences are important. Read with your baby in short segments, perhaps just a few minutes or pages at a time. When the baby turns away or gets fussy, that may be your cue to change activities and read again later.
Other things you can do:
- Choose brightly colored board or plastic books your baby can see, taste and feel
- Choose books with simple illustrations or photos – one per page with bright colors
- Share books about babies, families, or familiar objects – pets, toys, food, etc.
- Point to pictures and name colors and nouns (people, animals, things)
- Talk often to your baby; explain what you are doing or thinking; and say how much you love him or her
- Maintain eye contact and smile while talking to your baby
- Sing songs, recite rhymes and say poems
- Play classical and other music with calm beats; keep the volume low
- Play games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
- Put mobiles and pictures around the crib and/or highchair
Books for children 0 – 12 months
- All Fall Down by Helen Oxenbury
- Animals on the Farm by Feodor Rojankovsky
- Black on White by Tana Hoban
- Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton
- Goodnight Moon by Margret Wise Brown
- How Baby Grows by Stella Blackstone
- My First Baby Games by Jane Manning
- Peek-a-Boo! by Janet and Allen Ahlberg
- The Real Mother Goose by Blanche Fisher Wright
Books for children 12 – 18 months
- I Love Colors by Margaret Miller
- Jamberry by Bruce Degen
- Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joose
- Moon Bear by Frank Asch
- Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
- Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats
- Show Me! by Tom Tracy
- Time for Bed by Mem Fox
- Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill