The list of what a child needs is short: love, food, shelter, play.
A child also needs words. A child must be read to often and a child needs to read! Parents often ask me, "What is the best thing I can do for my baby/child?" Without hesitation I always reply "Reading! Books!"
A love for books and reading is truly one of the best gifts you can ever give your child.
Start reading to your baby! You can start reading to your child when they are very young. You do not need to wait until they are school aged. Babies love books. At this age, it is important to get them familiar with books. Let them touch and play with books and squeal with delight. Reading with your baby is wonderful quality time and both parents and babies love this special time and the snuggles. Start reading to your baby by 4 months old. Make it a part of your bedtime/daytime routine. Reading helps with language development and speech and the quality time is wonderful. Reading fosters communication, helps babies and children learn (letters, numbers, shapes, colors), builds listening and memory skills, builds vocabulary, and helps babies learn about the world around them.
Have books available around your home. Instead of TV/tablets/phones provide books to occupy time. Bring a book in your bag. Pull out a book instead of a phone to occupy some time when out and about. Books are easily accessible. Take your young children to the library often and take advantage of used book sales at libraries and book stores. Children learn so much more from books rather than screens and tablets/phones. Reading is more interactive and children develop vocabulary, communication, and social skills.
Limit screen time. Mentioned above but so important, limit screen time! Be a good role model and limit your screen time too. Ideally no more than 1-2 hours a day of screen time. And children less than 2 ideally, no more than 30 minutes.
Babies do not need fancy toys, they need books! Help foster a love of reading in your child. The gift of reading is truly one of the best gifts and the quality time and love of reading is priceless.
Dr. Samantha G. Cutler, FAAP, mother of two young sons, sees patients primarily at our Lake Ridge Office. She has a special interest in child development and guiding parents on school placement decisions.