Read to Me! reading tips have lots of great ideas and book suggestions, but don’t worry if your baby doesn’t seem to love books right away. Start slowly, and watch for a time during the day when your baby is quiet, alert and ready to engage.
Talk, read or chant a rhyme and watch for your baby’s cues. When they get fussy and turn away, they’re telling you they’ve had enough. Sometimes, your baby may love being held and looking at the pictures in a book, other times they may not seem interested. That’s OK. Your baby will let you know when they are ready, and if you watch each day for the best time to talk, sing and read, you can start building a reading routine that will grow as your baby grows.
A: Hold your baby close, look into their eyes and talk – your baby wants to connect with you!
B: Talk, sing and chant rhymes during the day as you do diaper changes, feed your baby or go for walks.
C: Cuddle up with a book and let your baby look at the bright pictures, hear your voice and be held close.
Choose a time when your baby is calm and alert.
Pick a quiet, comfortable spot to cuddle up with your baby.
Read or sing in a soft, soothing, ‘sing-songy’ voice.
Breastfeeding can be a great time to sing to your baby, say a rhyme or read aloud.
Read for a few minutes at a time – don’t worry about finishing a book with a newborn.
If your baby is having fun, they will show you by cooing or moving their hands or feet in pleasure.
Hold your baby so they can see the pages of the book. In the beginning, your baby won’t understand what they are looking at, but will be entertained by the bright colours and shapes.
Keep it soothing and fun. Stop reading if your baby is showing you that they have had enough, by crying, turning their face away or arching their back.
Choose a time when your baby is calm, alert and comfortable.
Hold your baby in your arms or on your lap.
Select board books that match your baby’s mood. Pick lively nursery rhymes when your baby is happy and alert or soothing lullabies when your baby is sleepy.
Select board books with images of baby faces and objects that are familiar to your baby.
You can add your own words or make up a story to go with the pictures.
Have fun while you read. Use silly voices or make sound-effects to match the story – cars can ‘Zoom!’ or go ‘Beep! Beep!’, trains can ‘Choo, choo!’ across the page, and ducks can ‘Quack!’
When your baby coos and gurgles, it’s their way of communicating with you. Keep the conversation going by chatting with them: “You like it when the cow goes ‘Mooooo!’, don’t you?”
Stop to talk about the images that attract your baby’s attention – “Yes! That’s a puppy dog isn’t it! What is your puppy dog’s name?”
As your baby grows, you may notice that they try to grab, chew or pat the book as you read to them. Don’t worry, this is their way of telling you they are excited and interested in the book.
Most of all, have fun! If you are having fun, your baby will too.
You can start your baby’s reading routine with the books and resources in the bright yellow Read to Me! bag you received in the hospital when your baby was born. The books in the bag are specifically selected for baby’s first year and are a wonderful way to introduce your family to a daily reading routine.
For more books and reading ideas, visit your local public library and sign up for one of their baby programs. Most importantly, make time every day to talk, read and play with your baby. You’ll be giving your baby a gift that lasts a lifetime.
For a great list of books to read with your baby or toddler, visit us at
Phone: (902) 470-6487 or (902) 470-7763
IWK Health Centre
5850/5980 University Avenue
PO Box 9700
Halifax, NS B3K 6R8
Fax: (902) 470-8785
We have been overwhelmed with the great gifts that we received from your program in the hospital! Thank you!
- Mary K.