Reading out to our babies helps stimulate their senses, contributes towards their budding vocabulary and triggers their cognitive skills. As a new mom, chances are that you find it completely ridiculous to introduce books to babies under 2 (especially under 1) as you feel they ‘can’t even read yet’, but in truth, the benefits of ‘reading’ a book or introducing books to our babies early on, are great. A significant plus is how it boosts their mental growth and language development. It also helps flourishing that parent/baby bond and setting a routine for a baby/ toddler.
American Academy of Pediatrics in their policy statement recommends that pediatric providers advise parents of young children that reading aloud and talking about pictures and words in age-appropriate books can strengthen language skills, literacy development and parent-child relationships. I STRONGLY advise you to go through THIS TEXT at AAP publications website to understand the multiple long term benefits of early reading out to babies.
So now that we are on the same frequency about the benefits of reading out books to our babies, a bigger and more challenging question is ‘HOW do you pick n’ choose the RIGHT book for your baby’? If you are ‘a book buff’ like me, you would automatically start book-hunting for your little ones, even before their arrival. But hey, they aren’t here yet, or they are too little to tell you their preferences. So HOW would you ‘book shop’ for them?
Frankly, this knowledge came to me from my two years (or perhaps ‘three’ as i started picking books wayyy before the girl arrived) of baby book hunting experience. Before that i was outright blank about the types and benefits of books like textured, lift-the-flap, cause n’ effect or Peek-a-Boo etc. Having no small baby around then didn’t help much either.
So, Here i am dispensing this priceless ‘baby book-hunting wisdom’ to you moms, in an eight pointer list.
1. Look for an ‘Age appropriate Book’
You are a brand new, confused parent trying to find ‘safe bet’ books?
Did you know that in MOST of the children books available, there is an age recommendation printed at some ‘hidden’ corner of the book. Once you have hunted it down, take it SERIOUSLY. Book publishers know which age bracket they are targeting and i don’t find a reason why they would fool you about that.
For instance 0-6 months baby can not make out the words in the book, and have poor vision. Most of the cloth books are age-appropriate for that bracket as they contain High Contrast/ Black/ White or Red Huge Pictures ONLY. Same goes for picture board books which are good for 0-2 years of babies. Most books with short phrases target babies 1+.
2. Look for interactivity
Of course, they can’t read yet. They would be more interested in the ‘interactive’ experience which they get out of the book.
Especially babies 6 month and above are learning the concepts of ’cause n’ effect’, Object Permanence & Sensory Stimulation. To inculcate the love and fascination for books at this stage, introduce a lots of ‘Lift-the-Flap’, Peek-a-Boo, textured & sounds books.
For instance, many famous books have versions available with ‘press the button for sounds’. The ‘with sounds’ version of ‘Polar Bear, Polar Bear’ by Eric Carle has been a FAVORITE at our place ever since the girl was about 3 months old.
You can buy a huge variety of Roger Priddy’s interactive books online at Daraz.pk for a VERY reasonable price.
3. Watch the budget
The most practical advice of the day from a mom who loves books.
Baby books have SOOOO much variety and before you know lil one will be hooked to another book, and then another. Once you get into the game, you will soon realize that NOT all books which are high cost must always be good too. Sometimes you can get amazingly cheap books for less than $5 (most of the books i have) and they serve the purpose just fine. Focus on the content, concepts they deliver, quality & pictures and that’s TOTALLY it.
You can find amazing books on AMAZON. Go to 0-2 years category, filter the search from low to high, and check the reviews and rating. That’s what i always do 🙂 Also, NEVER underestimate the variety a roadside book THAILA (cart) or a small stationary shop can offer you, at times u find gems there for Rs 200-300 only. True story! :p
4. Choose books around your baby’s interest
Cross 6 months, baby’s interests & preferences start shaping & showing up. Nothing too fancy but a kitty, bird, puppy, a certain cartoon character or toy would be their favorite. You can pick books around these likes.
For instance if there is a craze for ELMO you can get one of those Sesame Streets Book with ELMO in it like this.
At our place, little one was crazy about pigeons, so i ordered one ‘pigeon series’ book by Mo Willems for her. Around age 1, my girl went head over heels for TRUCKS (Imagine! especially Garbage trucks). So one day i incidentally found this AMAZZZING hard cover touch n’ feel TRUCKS book at a nearby stationery store for Rs 250 ONLY and how could i NOT get it?
5. Pick books regarding the PHASE your baby is going through
Phases in a babies/ toddlers’ life could be walking, teething, starting solids, sleep training, transitioning to crib or sippy cup, Potty training etc.
This technique worked M-A-G-I-C for me when i was transitioning my girl to crib from bed at 1. She whole-heartedly accepted her own separate ‘bed’ as she read about how a baby has his own set of ‘night time things’. This has worked at our place for MANY other things too, like developing bed time habits like brushing teeth, using potty before sleeping etc. Same goes for morning routine too. Sooper simple picture books like ‘Llama Llama Wakey-Wake’ describe the tasks we do in the morning.
6. Pick books which have wacky sounds
Babies enjoy crazy and funny sounds of animals, vehicles, trucks, birds or any object. Books with such sounds are a great entertainment as they hear you make funny sounds. They might as well replicate that sound and associate it with a certain object, hence contributing to their cognitive development. Babies tend to pick sounds first before they can actually say the word.
One great book with sounds is ‘Mr Brown can Moo’ by Dr Suess.
7. Books having useful words and concepts
The best benefit of ‘book reading’ at an early age is that babies pick the words and concepts from them, hence increasing their vocabulary. Pick the books which can add to their language development. Books like “First 100 words of a baby” by Roger Priddy introduce simple & basic every day use words and group concepts together. For instance, things that move come together in one group whereas things which are used during bath time come together in a separate group.
8. Introduce emotions with books
I don’t think i can tell you any other BETTER way to talk to your toddler about ’emotions than with books. It worked wonders for us. Little one not only understood different emotions, but had a lot of fun acting them out. For instance, on being asked how mama gets angry she mimics by making an angry face.
Giving awareness about those fluctuating emotions is critical for a toddler in that Toddler temper/ tantrum stage. I used a few excellent ‘feelings & emotions’ books. Not only did they provide a GREAT learning and self awareness, they provide an excellent fun and entertainment too. We do the ‘Haaaapppppy Happpppy Dance’ like a Pigeon every time we are reading this Book ‘Pigeon has feelings too’ 🙂
A separate post on our favorite ‘feelings & emotions’ books which helped my little one understand about her emotions will come very soon.
Hope you enjoyed this post. Do let me know if this proved helpful to you in choosing books for your 0-2 years old.
Happy Reading-out moms! xx