When choosing books conducive to the benefits of reading to babies, there are no hard and fast rules. There are books that are specially designed for certain stages of development, but anything is fair game so long as you keep a few important rules-of-thumb in mind. Follow these tried-and-true guidelines to help ensure the maximum benefits for your child.
Most infants have a tendency to put things in their mouths. It’s how they first begin to explore their world. So, it’s essential to make sure that the books your baby “explores” are printed with non-toxic inks and comply to safety standards for infants. Board books like those in Baby Einstein Playful Discoveries are printed with child-safe inks on heavy cardboard that’s then coated. They wipe clean and have thick pages that are easier for little fingers to grasp and turn.
Cloth books are padded and printed with non-toxic inks on soft, strong fabric. Some (like those in Baby Einstein Playful Discoveries) are even machine washable—a welcome relief to parents who have babies like mine, who would end up wearing more than they ate. Like board books, cloth books are able to withstand the wear and tear that babies are likely to dish out.
In the first two years of life, humans are primed for language learning. Books can be a primary delivery method for teaching babies the sounds of their native language. Infants love to listen to books that have predictable patterns, interesting language, rhythms, and rhymes (such as those in the Dr. Seuss club). Poems, nursery rhymes, and songs make it easy for babies to pick up differences and patterns of language.
In the first few weeks of life, infants are visually drawn to starkly contrasting colors, like black and white. If you’ve ever seen a baby mesmerized by the sight of a ceiling fan light, you’ll know what I mean. Young babies also love to stare at faces, especially those of their parents. Some say it’s because their parents’ faces are full of light and dark contrasting areas. There are baby books designed using a black, white, and red color palette for this very reason. After the first month or so, babies tend to prefer books with bright, bold colors. You may notice that your baby loves books with photographs of faces or even mirror books that allow your little one to enjoy looking at his own adorable face.
When your baby is well-rested and comfortable, try reading her multi-sensory books—those are books with flaps that lift, have various textures, are sparkly, or crinkle and make noise. Different parts of the brain are stimulated when your baby experiences the world through her senses. As your baby’s fine motor skills develop, you’ll find that she’ll love being able to lift the flaps of a book and enjoy a peek-a-boo surprise on her own.