Reading is a habit that has immense benefits on the human brain. Not only does regular reading help improve the strength of your brain (it is a muscle after all), it helps build vocabulary, reduces stress, aids sleep, increases empathy and can even lengthen your lifespan! And we now know that there are vast advantages to reading to newborns and infants, too. So, here are five benefits of reading to your little one:
It Makes Them Smarter
Did you know that 80% of your child’s brain growth occurs during the first three years of their life?! That’s a lot of learning. Babies who are read to regularly are exposed to upwards of 30 million more words by the age of three than peers who were not regularly read to. This exposure significantly impacts the way the language networks of their brains develop which will increase their mental processing speed. A faster processing speed boosts vocabulary, increases memory, and strengthens reasoning.
Reading to Your Little One Introduces new Concepts
Children’s books are filled with all sorts of imagery to introduce new concepts in ways a baby’s developing brain can understand. Animals, colors, shapes, numbers, general household items, people, etc. are personified in ways that capture your baby’s attention. This stimulates their brain in a pleasureful way that makes them want to engage even more. If you’ve ever tried to read “just one” book to a child you know what we mean here.
It Encourages Emotional Development
As we know with adults, reading increases empathy and compassion because we are introduced to other’s experiences through stories. The same is true in babies. When you read stories out loud to your baby they hear the different emotions and expressive sounds. An added benefit to regular reading time with your little one is that it will help them feel safe, secure, and happy. This association can benefit them throughout their entire lives. Many adults use reading as a safe form of escapism and to reduce stress.
It Helps Their Motor Development
Many children’s books, especially those designed for the newborn-infant age range, actively encourage interaction from your baby. Whether it’s pushing buttons, pointing to items, looking in mirrors, petting animals, or just chewing on the corner of their favorite hardcover, getting babies to interact while you read to them encourages and supports their motor development. Early development of these motor skills can help them feel safe to explore the world around them. As babies explore they increase their speech, sensory, and cognitive development.
It Actually Makes you a Better Parent
Reading to your little one not only helps with bonding but in a recent study conducted by Rutgers University, it was found that reading to children reduced harsh parenting behavior. In turn, regular reading time also reduced disruptive behavior from children. So, spending time reading to your little one helps both of you become calmer. That sounds like a win-win to us!
As you can see, there are vast benefits to reading to babies far beyond the storyline. We encourage you to read to your little one early and often! In honor of World Book Day, here are some of our childhood favorites:
- Goodnight Moon
- The Snowy Day
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- Where the Wild Things Are
- Harold and the Purple Crayon
- The Story of Ferdinand
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
- The Runaway Bunny
- Make Way for Ducklings
- Guess How Much I Love You