The Literary Layette
Your new baby’s “layette” should include a surprising necessity!
Tiny little caps? Check.
Bitty booties? Check, check.
Onesies. Cutest check ever.
Nursing cloths? Check, check, check.
Reading to your baby is essential to her growing to be a healthy, smart, kind, strong, and literate human being. Reading with your baby can—and should!—begin on the day she’s born. So yes, books should be just as much a part of your baby’s layette as her booties and bibs.
At first, you can read anything. Remember that scene in Three Men and a Baby when Tom Selleck is reading Sports Illustrated to baby Mary?
That’s what we’re talking about. The most meaningful bits about reading to your infant are your reassuring cuddles and the sound of your voice. Your baby is imprinting with the smell and feel of your skin, the melody of your language, and the expressions on your face. So read her the editorial page, the Sixth Edition of Organic Chemistry, or Julia Child’s recipe for boeuf bourguignon. No rules, no judging.
Books with high-contrast images in bold colors appeal to your baby in his first few months. His eyes are beginning to focus, and offering such interesting shapes and colors supports his efforts in eye-muscle control. While your baby looks at these books, you can go off script. As long as you’re talking, you’re doing the right thing. So tell some dumb jokes, recite nursery rhymes, or sing a little Freddie Mercury.
Around six months, your baby will be able to hold (and chew) her own books. Extra-chunky, extra-sturdy board books are just right for the tough and slimy love your baby will be dishing out! Books with lift-a-flap surprises are perfectly delightful at this age. Encourage your little one to open the flaps herself, to help her coordinate her “pincer grasp” of thumb and forefinger.
All this time, your baby is absorbing your language and your vocabulary. Leading up to that first-birthday milestone, he is comforted with lyrical language and the warmth of your embrace. He is bouncing to the rhythm of poetry and music, clapping and banging with the joy of making his own noise! All day long, there’s room for books both soothing and quiet, noisy and playful.
So whether you’re selecting essential baby supplies for a baby shower or for your own little one on the way, we hope you’ll include books on your list of must-haves. For more tips on choosing books for babies, we love this blog post about creating baby’s first library.