Reading With Your Baby From Birth

Posted by JoAnna LaTulippe-Rochon on 7 September 2015

Your child’s ability to hear, recognise and use sounds in her early years will help her have success later in life when she’s learning to read. 

Reading aloud and sharing stories with your baby from birth is one of the most important and enjoyable things you can do. If you’re not sure where or how to start, here are some ideas.

Why reading with your young baby is important

Sharing stories, talking and singing helps your baby’s development. Doing this every day helps your baby get familiar with sounds, words, language and, eventually, the value and joy of books. This all builds your baby’s early literacy skills and helps him go on to read successfully later in life.

Reading stories also stimulates your baby’s imagination and helps her learn about the world around her. It’s a great time for you to bond with your baby and share time together too.

You can start reading aloud to your child as early as you like – the earlier the better. Articles on reading stories with babies and children and developing literacy have more information to get you started.

Sharing books with your baby

Even young babies can learn from the experience of reading books with you. For example, you can:

  • Name familiar and new things – this can help your baby learn about sounds and words. The more words children hear, the more words they learn
  • Change the tone of your voice as you read – this makes it easier for your baby to pick up on different speech sounds, an important step in learning to make sounds himself
  • Read slowly and spend time on each page after you read the words – this lets your baby focus
  • Turn the pages when you read with your baby – this shows him how to use a book.


Here are some general tips to help you make the most of reading time with your little one:

  • Set up a special reading space at home – for example, a chair, lounge or beanbag that’s big and comfortable enough for you and baby, with a box of books or bookshelf nearby. 
  • Make a routine, and try to share at least one book every day. For example, sharing a book can be a relaxing way to end the day.
  • Turn off the TV or radio, and find a quiet space so your baby can hear your voice
  • Try out funny noises and sounds – play and have fun!
  • Hold your baby close or on your knee while you read, so she can see your face and the book.

Visit your local library – it’s free to join and borrow. The staff will be able to recommend age-appropriate books for you and your baby to enjoy.

What to read with your baby

There are so many books to choose from that it can be hard to know where to start.

As a broad rule, babies enjoy books that have good rhymes, rhythm and repetition. This repetition and rhyming helps children learn.  It is the building block for early literacy.

From when your baby is born, you might like to look for:

  • Books with bright colours or simple, large and high-contrast pictures such as black and white pictures  – these are interesting and easy for babies to focus on
  • Books with different textures so your baby can hear, see and feel the book
  • Books with pictures of babies and faces
  • Soft, waterproof plastic and cloth books that can go in your baby’s mouth and into the bath.

Here are some books your baby might enjoy:

  • Baby Touch Colours by Ladybird Books
  • Baby Touch Words by Ladybird Books and Justine Smith
  • Brown Bear Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin Junior
  • Polar Bear Polar Bear, What do you hear? by Bill Martin Junior
  • I Went Walking by Sue Machin 
  • Walking Through theJjungle by Julie Lacome
  • How Many Kisses Do You WantTtonight? by Varsha Bajaj
  • Crocodile Beat by Gail Jorgensen and Patricia Mullins
  • Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers.

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