Good night moon. Good night stars. Do you know the rest? Many parents spend countless hours reading bedtime stories to their babies. Some even read to their swelling bellies during pregnancy. You might wonder if there is any benefit.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
According to a new study, your efforts with baby are well placed. Researchers found that reading books to infants can boost vocabulary and reading skills four years later, before the start of elementary school.
Kimberly Giuliano, MD, of Cleveland Clinic Childrens did not take part in the study, but encourages parents to start reading to their babies as early as possible.
Its never too early to start. If you want to read to your newborn — thats great, said Dr. Giuliano. They get in your arms, theyre comforted, they hear your voice and its a wonderful bonding experience for parents and babies alike.
More about the study
Researchers monitored 250 pairs of mothers and babies between the ages of 6 months and 4-and-a-half years for reading skills and for how well they could understand words.
They found that book reading quality during infancy was a good predictor of early reading skills.
They also found that a combination of book reading quality and quantity during toddler years was a good predictor of literacy skills, such as name writing, by age four.
How young is too young?
Dr. Giuliano said once babies begin opening their eyes more and become more reactive to the world around them, theyre more than ready for books.
She said even if theyre only a few months old, they can still learn.
Young babies, especially those under the age of one, love books that have a little bit more of a sensory feedback to them, Dr. Giuliano says.
They learn by developing all different types of senses, so if they can hear, see, and touch, it really helps them to understand the concepts that are being presented to them in the book.
Why reading helps kids of all ages
Dr. Giuliano said its important for kids of all ages to spend time relaxing and reading every day.
The more we engage our brains actively in reading, the better children do academically, the longer their attention spans are, and the more success theyre likely to have in school, said Dr. Giuliano.