Reading to babies

It’s never too early to start reading to your baby!

From the time they are born they will love hearing your voice.


  • Reading aloud to them
  • Singing nursery rhymes and songs – Here’s one your baby will love – Four little Ducks. You can sing along.
  • Talking to them about what you are doing: We are getting dressed now; I’m cooking dinner; I’m chopping a carrot, now I’m washing my hands; I wonder what grandma is doing…

Why is reading important for babies?

Learning how to read starts with talking and listening.

The more talking and listening you do with your baby, the more ready they will be to start reading when they get a bit older.

By talking and singing to your baby, your baby will begin to understand that:

  • there are words
  • words have meaning
  • words have different sounds
  • sentences and rhymes have different rhythms.

By reading books to your baby, they begin to understand that:

  • words and pictures can tell a story
  • reading is fun

What can babies usually do at 12 months?

By 8-12 months, your baby should start to show interest in picture books.

They may just want to put them in their mouth – tough, baby slobber-proof books are good for this!

This is OK! Even handling books helps babies to understand what books are and how they are used.

It’s also great to read the same book over and over again. Small children (and big children) enjoy hearing the same book again and again!

Best book ideas for babies

Books that rhyme are a favourite with little ears.

Some of our favourites include:

  • Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox
  • Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox
  • Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
  • Video Hairy Maclary by Julia Donaldson

For more ideas on books that are good for babies: