toddler reading a book
Babies & Toddlers

6 Tips For Reading to Babies and Toddlers

Hi! This post is one of a four part series on reading with babies and toddlers. Reading together is such a huge part of our family that I thought I’d do something special and put together some resources for parents in honor of this “back-to-school” season.

In This Series:

It may sound silly to read to babies, but it’s never too early to start!

Here are 6 helpful tips for reading to babies and toddlers.

1. It’s Never Too Early

Reading is a great way to bond with your baby, and reading from a very early age lays a great foundation for learning. Even babies only a few months old loving looking at high-contrast picture books and watching the pages turn. Start early and make reading a part of daily life to help your kiddo develop a love for reading!

2. Reading = Quality Time

Snuggles and cuddling are one of the BEST parts of reading with littles. It’s likely just as important to your babe as the actual reading itself. Let them sit on your lap or cuddle up close on the couch with you when you read, and allow yourself to be fully present with them. 

3. Keep Books Handy 

Reading is a way of life! Make it easier by keeping books handy in every room on a variety of shelves, magazine racks, and baskets. We have so many that we store some in the closet and we rotate them to help keep our choices fresh and to help reduce booksplosions in the living room. 

(We scored the kids bookshelf pictured for $5 on Facebook Marketplace. You definitely don’t have to spend a fortune to find cute ways to store books!)

4. Be Engaging Without Testing 

Sometimes it’s hard to know how to engage a toddler in reading without constant quizzing, but you can try to ask more open ended questions versus this kind of testing. 

For example, asking “what was your favorite part or picture?” instead of saying “point to the red one” can let your child feel like an active participant in the reading activity without feeling pressured to perform. It’s not very confidence building for a child to get a lot of things “wrong” while reading a book. (ie where’s the monkey? No, that’s a dog.) 

Now, it CAN be confidence building to have the right answer to Mom and Dad’s questions sometimes. Just try to avoid the pitfall of constant quizzing (I know, I know…little Johnny is just so smart!) Just try to ask questions that help you have a conversation, too. This demonstrates that you are more concerned with enjoying your time together than them having the right answers.

Are babies going to answered an open-ended question? No. But maybe they want to read a book backwards or explore a book upside down. If your infant is interested…anything goes!

Some more ideas for engaging toddlers are:

  •  Noticing letters together
  •  Making the noises of animals/vehicles you see
  •  Having them name items they see in the pictures before reading the text

5. Model How to Turn Pages and Care for Books

Another fun and important way to engage babies in reading is by modeling how to turn the pages and allowing them to start helping as soon as possible! Start with board books and work up to real paper when they have a better understanding of how to handle books. Model putting them away when you are done reading and encourage your child to help put them back on shelves. 

little girl carrying books

6. What to Look for in Books

Babies and toddlers are like little visual sponges. They soak up so much of their understanding of the world on the things they see around them. This usually translates into loving books in which they can recognize the things they know from their daily life; books about getting dressed, becoming a brother or sister, visiting grandma and grandpa, the seasons, going potty, going to the doctor etc. 

Therefore, books with realistic pictures and stories about our daily lives are far from boring. In fact, I’ve found these to often be my kiddos’ favorites! However, these aren’t the only types of books babies and toddlers love. 

Babies and toddlers also have an eye for beauty and love to use their senses. Look for books with beautiful images and color.

Lift-the-flap or touch-n-feel books are also super fun and sensory for little ones.

Finally, make sure you look for books that YOU, the parent, also enjoy. If you collect children’s books that you find sweet, funny or nostalgic, you are far more likely to be interested in reading it to your child again and again. 

Reading together is so precious and I hope these tips help you make reading to babies and toddlers even more special! 


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