Reading with an Infant: Ideas for Getting Started

​​It is never too early to start introducing books to your baby. At first, babies may not respond to books in the way we expect. Jim Trelease in The Read-Aloud Handbook  (2013, 7th Edition; Penguin Books: New York) talks about stages in typical infants' responses to reading. These general guides can help you as you introduce the world of books to your baby, including:

At 4 months

A child has no choice but to listen and observe since she has limited mobility. The parent may be thinking, "This is easy!" Your arms can encircle the baby to convey support and bonding.

By 6 months

The infant is more interested in grabbing the book to suck on it than listening or looking (which he/she may also be doing). You may want to give him a teething toy to suck on while you share the book.

At 8 months

Your baby may prefer turning pages to steady listening and/or watching. Allow ample opportunity to explore this activity but don't give up on reading entirely.

At 12 months

Your child's involvement may grow to turning pages for you. The child may point to objects on the page, imitate animal noises on cue or use the sign for the animals or objects on the page.

By 15 months

Your baby is walking a lot and his or her restlessness may blossom fully. Your reading times may need to be chosen carefully so as not to frustrate the child's immediate interests.

Each Baby's Response to Books ​Will Be Different

These are general guidelines for reading to babies. Each infant will differ in how he responds to books. Follow your little one's lead, read his signals, but don't give up. Continue to introduce books and find times when your baby is most receptive to the experience. If enjoying books together is one of your favorite activities, your baby will enjoy it, too.

Anne Krueger's Parenting: Guide to Your Baby's First Year (1999: Ballentine Books: New York, p. 220) suggests that parents, "choose cuddly soft books that will feel good to baby's hands, and smooth, sturdy books tough enough for baby teeth."

Below are a few books that are great for reading with infants. You can also browse books online by age at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

More Information about Communicating with Baby