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Make the Most of Reading to Your Baby
From poring over designer stroller reviews to making sure all of the wall sockets in your house are preemptively kid-proofed with little plastic inserts, the to-dos on your baby preparedness checklist probably seem to go on forever. But once all of those boxes are checked, you'll be left with the greatest reward of all: the opportunity to raise your bundle of joy in a safe, happy, and educational home. That's where reading comes in.

Stuffed animals and games of peek-a-boo are mainstays of childhood. But books should always be in the mix.

Reading to your baby instills valuable communication and vocabulary skills. This also fosters a love of reading right from the start. No matter how young they are, the process of hearing you speak will shape how they talk and what they choose to say. Depending on which books you read, you can impart information about the world around your child in a uniquely interactive way.

All right, so reading to your baby's a good thing. But what's the best way to start?

The types of books you buy are crucial. Shy away from "War and Peace" and towards sturdy, colorful books with pages that feature interactive elements or interesting textures – such as cloth or board books. Reading feels even more rewarding when your child's actually listening, so choose times when they're calm — and make it a performance! Use funny voices and sounds, and point to pictures to keep them engaged.

Lead by example. Show your child you like to read, too, and feel free to do it aloud. Story time is a wonderful nightly routine that also allows you to bond with your little one. Before you know it, they'll be reading to you!

So the next time you're consulting your baby to-do list, pencil in a little time for book shopping. Of course, the stroller and electrical socket guards are still very important.
Luke Kelly-Clyne