5 Tips to Read to Your Baby and Kids

By Jennifer Bright

April 7, 2020 5 min read

You know how a memory from childhood feels like a memory, but it might actually just be a memory of seeing a photo? That's how I feel about my memories of my dad reading to me. I've seen several pictures of my dad, wearing a navy blue robe, sitting on his favorite rocker and reading a newspaper with me perched on his lap.

"I read you anything and everything," my dad told me proudly. "I'd read the comics, but I'd even read you the news."

I deeply believe that my love of reading, writing and now publishing was born from those wonderful times with my dad.

Reading to your baby offers many benefits, including teaching him or her about communication; introducing concepts such as stories, numbers, letters, colors and shapes; building listening skills; and giving him or her information about the world around him. So, what's the answer to pretty much any question? Look in a book!

Here's what our mommy M.D.'s — doctors who are also mothers — do to read to their own babies and children.

"My babies always enjoyed the Richard Scarry books, and we started reading these books to them until they were about 4 to 6 months old," says Michelle Storms, M.D., a mom of three grown children, the assistant director of the Marquette Family Medicine Residency Program in Marquette, Michigan, and a member of the health professionals board for Intact America.

"It is great to read to your baby, but choose those books carefully!" says Elizabeth Berger, M.D., a mom of two grown children, a child psychiatrist and the author of "Raising Kids with Character" in New York City. "Once your child gets old enough to recognize the content of the story (which certainly won't happen during the baby's first year), many children beg to hear the same story over and over and over. You can really get tired of a boring story! So, make sure that the storybook has enough subtlety and imagination to charm you after 50 readings, or you'll want to pull your hair out. No kidding!"

"My husband and I often sat together with our babies and had story time," says Jennifer Bacani McKenney, M.D., a mom of two and a family physician in Fredonia, Kansas. "We usually read in the nursery while I'm nursing the baby or while our kids were getting ready for a nap. When they were babies, we read books that my husband and I read, like "How to Win Friends and Influence People" and "Eat Pray Love." I think that the important thing is that our babies heard our voices and how the language sounds. When they understood a little more of what we're saying, we swapped to "Go, Dog. Go!" and some of our other childhood favorites."

"I started reading to my oldest daughter before she was even born," says Kristie McNealy, M.D., a mom of four and a health care consultant in Salt Lake City. "The very first thing I ever bought for her was a collection of Beatrix Potter stories. I've been reading to my kids ever since. We don't have a set reading time; we pretty much read anytime — all day, whenever the mood strikes us, whenever we need some quiet time or if someone isn't feeling well."

Dr. Rallie's Tips

"When my youngest two children were babies, I was still in my medical residency program, and I had lots of reading to do. While I was holding my sons or nursing them, I would read my medical books and journals out loud. I'm sure they didn't particularly enjoy or understand the content, but they were happy to hear the sound of my voice. Reading the material out loud helped me to learn what I needed to know while still spending time with my babies.

"When my sons got older, that little trick didn't work anymore. They still loved having me read to them, but they insisted on 'The Berenstain Bears' or 'Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type.'" — Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year," nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky.

Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: StockSnap at Pixabay

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