Reading bedtime stories for your baby can be fun. This is one of the best times to snuggle and share something good with your baby. Such times are great for bonding. Bedtime stories play a major role in helping to create a healthy sleeping routine for your little one. Reading a sleepy and soothing poem or story can aid you greatly.
Most of us know how important it is to read to a child. When you start early, it is even better. Some feel it is silly to read to an infant who understands nothing. Sometimes the young ones can barely sit still as you read to them. However, even when a baby seems like they are too young to listen to a story, introducing them to bedtime stories teaches them something at that very early age.
Why you should read to baby
Finding the best bedtime stories to read to your baby is good. You can initiate the reading as early as four months old. When this is done early, there is a great chance that you will keep reading the baby more stories that are age-appropriate as they grow older. When you start early, you lay a very strong language foundation in the baby’s brain way before they can even talk. This helps the baby learn more words than when you don’t read anything.
Some guidelines can help you pick the right bedtime stories to read and the types of books suitable for children from the time they are born. Stating at the very early years is one of the best things you can do for the child, and it is an opportunity for you to strengthen your bond, which reflects even when the child is older.
From the time a child is born up to 6 months of age: you can pick vinyl bath books, soft fabric bools, or chunky board books. The child may look young and may not understand anything said. However, the child enjoys being around you and hearing your words and voice. At that young age, the child recognizes the routine by kicking, smiling, widening their eyes, and calming down. The material matters at this age because the child could grab the book and even chew it. The child may not be able to pay full attention, and you should break if they start crying, close their eyes and show any other signs of boredom.
Between 6-9 months: you should pick simple stories but ensure that they have colorful illustrations. You can try board books. At this age, the babies can explore by touching and looking. They can mouth them too. By the time the baby is 9 months, they may start recognizing some stories and may have a preference.
Between 9 and 18 months: you should try board books bearing simple stories. The stories that work well at this age are the ones with phrases and rhymes, especially the repetitive ones to capture the toddler's attention. At this age, the child will enjoy the pictures, especially when familiar objects and babies are in them. They may have a favorite story at this age. You may start asking some questions when the child is 12 months old and help them identify objects within the storybook. It’s a good way to assess the child’s gestures.
At 18-24 months, you can now introduce your child to longer stories. You can try paper pages at this point, but you will still need to supervise. Try stories with a more complex plot. Humor is also a good idea. You can try out silly rhymes. As you read, try as much as possible to motivate your child to connect with the story’s energy. At this age, it may be possible for the child to connect and label objects with a simple sound. They can imitate the sound of a cat when they spot the picture of the same and so on. You should engage the child more and harness their independence by allowing them to turn pages and finish lines, especially when reading their favorite books. You can also discuss things that can be seen in the pictures and ask simple questions to help the child process the story better.
At 24-36 months: they may be ready for regular paged books at this age. Choose books with a more engaging plot and some extra points like better illustrations, Rhymes, and more humor. Nonfiction stories are a good ideal as well. It can be stories about the seasons, vehicle constructions, different jobs related stories, etc. With such stories, the child can figure out exactly how things work independently. Interact with the child during bedtime story time with questions. Ask them what they expect will happen within the story. You can also interrelate the story with your child’s activities to work well.
By the time they get to three years, the child may already know stories by reading the pictures. At this age, the child may have a very particular interest in certain books and may want to hear a single story repeatedly. Kids love repetition, and it should not surprise you at all.
Are bedtime stories necessary?
As highlighted above, bedtime stories can be great. However, it does not mean that stories should only be restricted to bedtime. You can tell stories as you drive with your child, groom them, or even over mealtimes. Every time you engage your child and read a story, you build their skills and language. You are also getting a very deep connection with the child.
Bedtime stories have been around for a long time. They have countless benefits, and they should not be abandoned at all. Reading for the baby teaches them about better communication, then introduces them to shapes, colors, letters, and numbers in the best way, and also helps build their memory, vocabulary, and listening skills. When they start talking, they will hear more words and can talk better. These are things that will aid them all through their lives.
Reading in the early years gives a child the chance to learn how to read much earlier. By hearing different words often, you can create such a great network within the baby’s brain. The kids who are read to, learn so many words by the time they are two years old.
When you read to a baby:
- The baby gets the chance to hear expressive sounds and emotions. It helps in the child’s emotional and social development.
- It motivates the child to touch, point, look and give answers when questions are asked. This assists with thinking, development, and social skills.
- The child learns and improves their language skills by learning worlds, picture recognition, and copying sounds
However, the connection you get with your baby counts most. The voice and how close the child feels to you. It shows the child how important reading is. This closeness, excitement, and joy that the child feels when spending time with you helps them associate reading with happiness. As the child gets older, they develop their preferences, and you can make changes according to this. Find stories that the child can associate with. A story like Bedtime for Batman can be a great inspiration to your child if he loves superheroes. It is educative as it guides them into the bedtime routine. It is not only about picking stories but also picking stories that add value.
Understanding the different ages and stages of your baby’s life is important. It is important to first pick stories for them, notice their preferences as they get older, encourage them to pick an even wider variety and make a few suggestions based on what you think they prefer most.
Bedtime story time can be an amazing moment for parents and their little ones, and it can be a simple act that will impact the child for life.