When and What to Read to Your Baby

Understanding when and what to read to your baby can be tricky.  Back in my teaching days, parents often asked me questions about reading aloud to their infants.  In particular, they wanted to know when they should start reading to their sweet little newborns.

“Right now,” I would tell them.

They would look at me puzzled and say, “Now? But he/she’s just a baby.”

“Exactly,” I would respond, “get started before she gets older!”


Why Should you Read to Babies?

Sometimes when I read to my kids, especially when they’re babies, I feel like they’re all…

happy endings not paying attention

Source: Gurl

However, studies have shown that the more language babies and children are exposed to, the better language skills they will develop as they grow. If that statement isn’t motivation enough, below are few more nuggets of inspiration for you…

One of the primary reasons to read aloud to a baby is to help them associate reading with pleasure – it feels wonderful to your little one to be snuggled up with you while they listen to your voice, and see and touch the pages of the book.

These cozy moments also help to build a bond between you and your child, further reinforcing the joy of reading. Additionally, reading aloud is a great calming and peaceful activity for both of you, and is a wonderful addition to any schedule especially as part of a bedtime routine.

As your child grows, other reasons to read aloud become more pertinent, such as:

  • building their knowledge-base

  • learning proper grammar

  • increasing vocabulary

  • bringing to light and discussing various issues, emotions and situations

  • increasing attention span

But back to the babes for the time being…

So it’s important to read to them. Got it. But what should I read to them? Does it matter??

Good questions!


The Best Books for Newborns

The best baby books stimulate your baby’s senses. Books that she can touch and feel with colorful and bright pictures are great. I’m a huge fan of anything touchy-feely!

Here are a few great options for baby’s first book (click any book image to see more about the book!):

*Full disclosure: some of the below are affiliate links.  But, as always, I pick what I love first then affiliate later ;)*

I also really love the cloth baby books that have the extra sensory input of being able to crinkle, squeeze and crumple the fabric! Here are some great cloth books for newborns:


It’s also good to find books with exciting sounds, rhythms and rhymes. Babies can pick up on the rhythm of the rhymes of Dr. Seuss and Mother Goose books, for example, and they enjoy how the sounds in the words come together and repeat. Listening and learning to identify rhymes also exposes children to a very key skill in learning to read and write – listening for specific sounds within words. Learning to isolate and identify specific sounds in words are super-dooper important skills, as they lay the foundation for helping your child figure out how to sound out words when reading or writing.

Listening to and playing with rhymes are great ways to exercise and practice this skill. When I taught kindergarten, I encouraged all families to spend time reading rhyming books and to play rhyming games with their children (i.e. “I spy something that rhymes with ____” or read a rhyming book but omit the rhyming word and let your child figure it out).

But I digress, back to the babes again.  It’s also been said that babies enjoy listening to the flow of rhymes because it reminds them of the rhythmic sound of their mothers’ heartbeats when they were in the womb. Bless their sweet lil hearts ;)…

Here are some great classic baby books and new popular baby rhyming books:

If you are interested in learning more about how the process of reading unfolds in children, you can read my post about reading readiness and pre-reading skills.

And if you’re looking for where to find great children’s books for older children, you can check out my post about where to find the best children’s books.

Happy reading!














8 thoughts on “When and What to Read to Your Baby

  1. I don’t have any kids yet, but many of my friends are all starting families. I always try to include a book with my baby shower gift because I also have believed the earlier you start reading to children, the better. I hadn’t thought about gifting cloth books though, so that was a great takeaway from this post. Thanks for the ideas!

  2. Such a great post! We believe in introducing language to children as early as possible! I really started reading to my baby before he was even born and I see that it helps. The books that you have chosen are great choices, especially the Dr. Seuss collection.

  3. You are so on point!! I love to read, so I have been reading to my daughters since they were babies. Now my girls have a love for books that I wish I had when I was their ages. For her birthday, my oldest will request gifts cards for Barnes & Noble so she can buy her own books.

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