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40% of parents start reading to their baby before they’re 3 months old

A baby who can open their eyes is a baby ready for a book, according to experts. 

40% of parents start reading to their baby before they’re 3 months old

My local library encourages parents to read 1,000 books to their children by kindergarten. It sounds like a lot, but my son is only two and I am pretty sure I've already read Brown Bear, Brown Bear at least 1,000 times this week. We've been reading together since he was born, and, according to a new report, we're part of a growing trend. More parents than ever before are following the American Academy of Pediatrics' suggestion to start reading to kids from birth.

The sixth annual Kids & Family Reading Report by Scholastic surveyed 2,718 American parents in 2016 and found more than three-quarters of parents with children under five started reading aloud before their child was a year old, and about 40 percent started before their baby was three months old (up from 30 percent in 2014). That's great news, according to experts.

I felt silly reading to my son when he hardly knew who I was (let alone what a brown bear was) but I'm so glad his dad and I just kept reading through the early awkwardness. Doctors say as soon as babies begin opening their eyes they're more than ready for books.


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, reading aloud to our little ones “stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime."

Sometimes it can feel like storytime itself lasts a lifetime. The Scholastic survey found two out of three parents with kids under five read more than one book each time they read aloud to their children. (I totally relate to this—as soon as my son learned the sign for “more" he would ask for another book as soon as the first ended, especially if we were reading at bedtime.)

The survey also noted that kids start choosing their own books at pretty early ages (this is why I had to hide Brown Bear, Brown Bear). Fifty-four percent of parents of kids two and under said their kids picked their own books, and and the majority of kids between three and five are choosing for themselves.

The Scholastic report follows research presented earlier this year that found reading books with mom during infancy is a good predictor of early-reading skills. The researchers monitored 250 mom and baby pairs for four years and found that kids who were read to as babies had better vocabularies later on, and that frequent, quality storytime sessions during toddlerhood are a good predictor of whether a child will be writing their name by age four.

Presenting that research at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting back in May, lead author Carolyn Cates drove home the benefits of reading to tiny babies: “What they're learning when you read with them as infants still has an effect four years later when they're about to begin elementary school."

With more parents than ever before reading to the youngest children, the next crop of elementary schoolers may be the brightest yet. It seems like a lot of kids will hear 1,000 books before kindergarten.

Here are some of our favorite titles for your little one's first library.

'Who Says Peep Peep Peep'

Who Says Peep Peep Peep

With a rhyming cadence and sweet illustrations, this board book is the perfect baby bedtime read.

$17

'Getting Ready'

Getting ready tactile book

Get ready for the day with this fun and interactive tactile book. Fuzzy, scratchy, and bumpy textures engage all your baby's senses and make story time even more exciting.

$15

'Sign About Going Out'

Sign About Going Out

Sign language is a fantastic way to develop early communication skills. This colorful board book introduces little ones to forty signs for everyday objects and activities outside the home (which will totally come in handy for both of you!)

$6

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

[This was originally published November, 2017. It has since been updated.]

Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this

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