Reading with your 0–12 month old child

Reading is an important step in your child’s developmental process. From motor skills (pointing with finger, turning pages, flipping book over) to cognitive and language learning, reading with your child is a great activity, starting at any age.

How do children react with books from 0-3 years old?

  • 0-6 months: May calm down while a familiar story or rhyme is read.
  • 6-8 months: May begin to explore books by looking, touching, and mouthing. May seem fascinated by a particularly bright picture.
  • 9-11 months: May have a favorite picture—for example of a smiling baby or a familiar-looking object.
  • 12-18 months: May begin turning pages or holding a book as if she is “reading.” May begin saying the word “book” and/or showing a preference for a specific book at bedtime.
  • 24-36 months: May begin anticipating the story. For example, while reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears, your toddler may say, “Just right!” as soon as he sees the picture of Goldilocks spooning up her porridge. She may also request the same story over and over and may pretend to read books on her own or tell you simple stories.**

How soon should I start reading with my child?

“…children who are read to consistently when they are young end up doing better in school.”

-Elizabeth Moore, MD pediatrics

It’s never too early to start. Research has shown that reading to your baby in the womb is linked to early literacy and language skills. Even without the ability to talk, your child is learning about the world around them. Find board books and soft cloth books that your child loves, and can safely play with, chew on, and read with you. With these sturdy books, your child is safe to play with them as they please. No need to worry or say “no”. Let them explore in their own little way.

What if my child isn’t interested when I read to them?

Start building a routine in your everyday life. Use a story, song, or rhyme at bedtime. Make up songs and rhymes when playing or driving in the car. Your kid will begin to love the power of words and sounds. Always be on the lookout for signs and words you can point to and say aloud. Make sure you have books accessible for your child to play and interact with. Don’t force them to read, let them learn on their own terms. You don’t want negative feelings towards reading at their young age.

What if my baby just wants to play with the book?

Their chewing and mouthing are showing you how much they like books. That is how babies explore, with their senses. Chewing and mouthing is normal and is teaching your baby the shape of the book. Books are bright and colorful and are very interesting to a young mind. Your baby is learning all about these square things, full of pictures and sounds.

Article adapted from

** Milestone date from

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