10 tips for reading with baby

“Have you started reading with her yet?”

I nearly fell off my chair when she asked me that! I was visiting my local Children’s Centre with my baby who was just THREE WEEKS OLD!

But now, I am all for it! There is tonnes of evidence that reading with a baby is hugely beneficial – it encourages them to interact with the world (especially those touchy-feely ones, or the lift-the-flap ones). It also teaches them about communication, introduces them to the art of storytelling and explanation, and exposes them to new words. It helps them to understand that words have meaning (i.e. when you say ‘lion’, you mean the yellow animal with a fuzzy mane!)

Top Tips for Reading With Your Baby

  1. Use board books (yes I know it’s probably a given but I thought we’d start with the basics and work up!). It’s important for the babies to be able to hold the books and explore them without you worrying that they’re going to rip the paper pages
  2. As you get to the end of each page, put your thumb between the following pages. This pushes the page you’re currently reading forward, allowing the baby to grab hold of it and turn the page. It’s surprising how quickly they can learn to do this – mine were only about four months old!
  3. As you read the text, point directly to the picture that is being talked about. So if the ladybird is talking, have your finger resting on the picture of the ladybird
  4. Make up actions! This is the key to helping babies enjoy books. You should be aiming for an action for every page. Here are a few to get you started:
    1. If there’s anything falling over, or thunder, or banging, we SLAM our hands onto the page
    2. If there’s any bouncing (e.g. rabbits, frogs, car journeys), I jiggle her up and down on my knee
    3. If there’s anything high up or tall, I slowly extend my arm, lifting the book above our heads (this is also great for helping them develop the ability to follow moving objects)
    4. If there’s any wind or blowing up of balloons, I blow gently in her face
  5. All animals have animal noises. Noises are easier to say than words so at 20 months, my daughter can identify lots of animals but a frog is a ‘bibbet’ (ribbit), and an owl is a ‘doo doooo’ (twit twoo).reading
  6. Animal noises WITH actions are even better! Going for a two-pronged attack helps it sink in even better! Here are a few of ours:
    1. Bee = tickle tummy saying buzz
    2. Crocodile = gently ‘snap’ your hand all over her (this also works for a crab)
    3. Rabbits = bounce up and down saying ‘bounce bounce’
    4. Butterflies = open and close the book saying ‘flap flap’
  7. Be repetitive. Do the same actions with the same voice intonation at the
    point each and every time you read it
  8. Read the book again and again if that’s what they want. It’s not unheard of for us to read the same book 4 or 5 times in a row.
  9. By the time they’re six months old, they’re more than capable of choosing their own book. I get out a selection of 5 books and spread them out on the floor next to where we are sitting. Baby can then select a book. This gives them a sense of ownership and independence, and you’ll soon get to find out what their favourite books are.
  10. Minimise distractions. Turn the music and TV off because extra noises can be confusing for the baby. It can also make it difficult for them to concentrate on what you’re saying and doing. Minimise your own distractions too by turning your phone off (or just putting it on the side) so that you’re not tempted to check it. If it looks like you’re more interested in something else rather than reading the book, then you’re teaching baby that books are boring


Now you know WHAT to do, you’ll need a few good books so you can get trying it out. Check out my favourite five books for babies (age 0-18mth!)



Add yours
  1. 1
    the frenchie mummy

    I started reading to my little one when he was about 2 months but he more interested in chewing my fingers. I stopped and will start soon when he is able to understand more. But I loved a book given by my health visitor with simple shapes. He would giggle to certain shapes.

  2. 2

    These are some great tips! As an avid reader myself, I really want to encourage Alfie to enjoy books, but get a tad frustrated when he tries to close the book and throw it on the floor as we’re reading! I shall persevere though, we’ve bought him a teepee for his birthday so hoping this can be our reading snug #coolmumclub

  3. 4

    Mr J and I are both massive readers and we’ve always read to Archie from the start which is why I think he now loves it so much. It’s such a nice thing to fit into the bedtime routine too. #bloggerclubuk

  4. 6

    Fab tips! I read religiously I our little girl since she was a baby and now she is 3 it’s really paying off. Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely xx

  5. 9

    I love reading with my 8 month old, some of these tips will come in handy, especially letting him choose his book. He always giggles at the same parts, just makes my heart swell, great bonding experience #coolmumclub

  6. 11
    Tall Mum in Manchester

    Aw, some lovely tips here. I can’t wait to read to Pea and already have a sizeable library of books. I’m looking forward to sharing the classics like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Dear Zoo as well as the modern classics like The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom. #coolmumclub

  7. 16

    Fab tips, all really useful. I’ve read to my boy since he was tiny and now he loves book’s. He has a great vocabulary for a 2 year old and I really think the fact we have read to him so much has helped with this.xx #TheList

    • 17
      Lucy At Home

      Yes I’m sure that reading increases vocabulary. My little one is almost 2 and she is already such a chatterbox (not that it makes much sense to anybody else but I’m beginning to understand quite a lot of what she’s trying to say now!). Thank you for leaving a comment. L

  8. 18
    Samsam S.

    I love reading to my son who just turned 10months, when he was an infant I got him the hungry caterpillar flip book that we used during tummytime. Now that he’s crawling and moving around somedays he enjoys books other days he doesn’t seem to be too interested and chews on the book instead..lol #thelist

  9. 22
    Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons

    These are great tips! My son has taken a long time to warm up to books, but the key has definitely been the repetition of certain noises and actions that he knows to join in with. He loves to know what to expect and feel like he’s part of something! #TheList

  10. 24
    Mindful Mummy Mission

    Really good advice – all 3 of mine love books and I’m sure it’s because we started them early. I love that the toddler twins now choose a book and sit for a few mins flicking through it pointing to things and ‘babbling’! #thelist

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