The best way for your baby to learn is through positive one-on-one interactions with the people they know and love. However, it’s not the only way that she can figure things out.
Your baby is always watching you, listening to you, and even smelling you. Even when your baby is outside of that sweet spot of face-to-face interaction, she is still trying to understand what is going on, and she pays special attention to what you and the rest of your family are doing.
All the important people in your baby’s life are role models for how to be human. And if you need proof of how much your baby is trying to be like you, just think of how quickly she picks up on your bad habits. You are not trying to teach her those things, but if she sees you’re staying up late, she wants to be awake with you. If she sees you on your smartphone a lot, your baby will want almost nothing more than to hold your phone in her tiny hands.
Under the age of two, children do not judge for themselves what is good or bad, they accept everything as normal. During this early stage, your baby understands how the world is supposed to work by what you do at home.
Now think about how much reading you do for yourself. Of course, cuddling up and sharing a board book is helpful to your baby, but what kind of a message are you giving her if she never sees you reading anything else?
A 2011 survey of families in the UK found that young people who see their mother and father read a lot are more likely to:
- identify themselves as readers,
- enjoy reading,
- read frequently
- have positive attitudes towards reading
You are not only teaching your baby what things are called and how things work, you are modelling the attitudes that she will adopt for herself as she grows older. If you want your baby to enjoy books and value reading, make sure that you show her that. Your baby is very good at reading your expressions and body language. If you look like you’re having fun or you’re doing something interesting, then she will want that to be a part of her life too.
If you’d like to learn more tips to help your baby grow up to love reading, check out our Books for Babies program!