What to expect with babies and books



Below are some indicators of what babies are capable of at different stages of development and what interests them about books and language:

0 to 3 months

  • Begin to be interested in what is going on around them and to have some control of head movement

  • Like to look at patterns, instead of solid colours, and prefer sharp contrast

  • Enjoy someone smiling at them and talking to them

  • Can produce sounds and begin to coo

  • Books made of stiff cardboard or soft vinyl with simple large pictures or designs set against a contrasting background are best

4 to 6 months

  • Cooing is well established

  • Begin to experiment with sounds

  • Become able to reach and grasp, and begin to sit up

  • Books are something to explore with mouth and hands, so cardboard and vinyl are best

  • Express great interest in nursery rhymes and when sung to

7 to 9 months

  • Very busy exploring objects with their hands

  • Begin to crawl and explore the environment

  • Babbling (syllable repetition, eg. ba-ba-ba) becomes part of the repertoire

  • Understand much of what is said to them

  • Can turn pages in board books

  • Paper is something to crumple and tear and taste, so keep books with paper pages until later

  • Can point to objects on a page and enjoy having them named, but not yet ready to follow a story

9 to 12 months

  • Very skillful with their hands

  • Learning to walk is a high priority

  • Begin to say first words and respond to simple questions and directions

  • Beginning to make connections between objects and events

  • Board books with familiar objects and activities are very interesting

  • Listen with interest to talk about what they are looking at in books, and attempt to repeat words

12 to 18 months

  • Language blossoms

  • Produce a lot of jabbering which sounds like actual speech

  • May start to sing along when sung to or when listening to recordings

  • Enjoy books with songs and repetitive phrases

  • Begins to be interested in and able to follow simple stories about little ones that relate to their own experience

19 to 30 months

  • Begin to form simple sentences and actual conversation is possible

  • “Why?” becomes continuous, as a technique for obtaining information, but often also in order to keep a conversation going

  • Actual stories are enjoyed now - about other children, about how things work, and what makes thing happen

  • Books with an illustration and a little text on each page are best

  • Will spend a lot of time looking at illustrations 

  • Love predictable books – ones in which sentences are repetitive and rhyme




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You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be – I had a mother that read to me.

... Strickland Gillian ...