Research shows that reading to infants provides HUGE benefits including improved vocabulary and advanced cognitive skills. A study conducted by Helen Raikes at the University of Nebraska looked at the effects of parents reading to young children in more than 2,500 families. (There is not a large body of research on the effects of reading to infants under the age of 12 months. Even this study did not look at reading before the age of 14 months.) Overall, about half the mothers in the study said they read to their children daily. Slightly more mothers reported reading to their children when the children were ages 2 and 3 than when they were 14 months old. This speaks to the fact that many parents don’t believe that reading has value for their children prior to toddlerhood (around age 2-3). The researchers found that English-speaking mothers who started reading to their children at an early age (14 months) had toddlers with better language comprehension; larger, more expressive vocabularies; and higher cognitive scores by age 2. Similarly, Spanish-speaking mothers who began reading to their children every day at an early age had 3-year-olds with greater language and cognitive development than those who weren’t read to. In addition, the researchers found that, among English-speaking mothers, the more the mother read, the better the child’s vocabulary, which in turn encouraged more reading.
Children's books don't take very long to read and bring unending joy to infants. My daughter loves "reading" her books each day. She especially loves the "What Color?" book her aunt bought her. She shrieks at the "pink" page and always kicks her feet when we take the book out of the drawer. Pick up a few board books and read to your infant today - he will love it and you will love that you are laying a strong learning foundation that will pay benefits for the rest of his life!
SOURCES: Raikes, H. Child Development, July/August 2006; vol 7. News release, Society for Research in Child Development