Self-Care Strategies for Parents Navigating Childhood Developmental Delays

Self-Care Strategies for Parents Navigating Childhood Developmental Delays
May 10, 2024
Self-Care Strategies for Parents Navigating Childhood Developmental Delays
May 10, 2024
Show all

Self-Care Strategies for Parents Navigating Childhood Developmental Delays

Mother Reading to Her Child

When to Start Reading to Baby and What to Read

Reading to your baby is a rewarding experience. It’s not only great for bonding, but it also lays the foundation for your child’s cognitive and emotional development. When it comes to starting the habit of reading, the answer is simple: it’s never too early.

Let’s look at when you should start reading to your baby and what types of books are most appropriate for different age groups. When you start reading to your baby, even before their first birthday, you are setting the stage for a lifelong love of reading.

Quoted at, the National Program Coordinator for Reach Out and Read, Patricia Cowan, had this to say: “The bonding experience is unbeatable. When you read to children, they’re getting your full attention, and that’s what they just love. No TV show or toy is better than that.”

The Importance of Early Reading

Even when your baby is too young to understand the words, early reading helps develop pre-literacy skills, build vocabulary, and stimulate growing young brains. Hearing words both encourages brain development and reduces stress, what a great combination!

A Rutgers-led study shows that children who are read to regularly at home have a larger, more complex vocabulary by the age of three, compared to those who are not read to as often. Additionally, these children tend to perform better once they start school.

According to the National Library of Medicine, when children are not read to at home during their first few years, they experience a Million Word Gap. This can put them at a real disadvantage academically, and yet data suggests that 25% of parents and caregivers never read with their children.

So, when should you start reading to your baby? The answer is now. It’s never too early to start. Some parents begin reading to their children during pregnancy, while others start right after birth. The earlier you start, the better, as babies benefit from the sounds and rhythms of speech almost immediately. As your child grows, early reading helps in developing logical thinking and emotional intelligence.

Age-by-Age Guide for Reading to Babies

Birth to 6 Months

During your baby’s first six months, their vision is still developing. Start with books that have minimal text and big, high contrast pictures. Interactive books that have touch and feel elements, mirrors, pull tabs and the like are a great choice. At this stage, the goal is not comprehension but exposure. Your baby will enjoy the sound of your voice and reading as an experience that they can look forward to.

7 to 12 Months

As your baby gets past their first half year, they may start to grasp some of the words you read to them. Focus on books that feature single objects or people per page, using familiar words like “doggy,” “mommy,” or “bottle.” Point to the pictures and act out what you read with your face, hands, and voice to engage your baby’s imagination.

13 to 18 Months

After the first year, you can introduce books with a sentence or two per page. Encourage participation by asking questions like “What does the dog say?” or “Do you see the cat?” This not only reinforces vocabulary but also helps with cognitive development. Sturdy board books that can handle enthusiastic page-turning are a good choice.

19 to 24 Months

Toddlers find the routine of reading to be calming and stress relieving. You will too. They may start requesting the same book repeatedly, which helps them make sense of and remember new words. Look for books with familiar stories and repetitive phrases. Use this repetition to your advantage by pointing out new details in the pictures and asking simple questions about the story.

24 to 36 Months

As your child approaches their third birthday, you can try books with regular pages and more complex plots. Stories with humor, rhymes, and engaging illustrations are appropriate. Nonfiction books about animals, vehicles, and jobs are also great. Encourage deeper thinking by asking questions like “How do you think the boy is feeling?” or “What do you think will happen next?” By now, your child be able repeat what they remember of the story based on the pictures, demonstrating their growing comprehension and storytelling skills.

Tips for Parents in Early Reading

Making reading enjoyable for your baby involves a few key approaches.

Consistency is important—establish a daily reading routine at the same time and place. Keep reading sessions interactive by using expressive voices, asking questions, and encouraging your baby to point to pictures or repeat words.

Choose age-appropriate books, and don’t be afraid to get silly—animal sounds and funny faces can make the experience more engaging.

Create a cozy, distraction-free reading environment. Remember to be patient and responsive and to foster a love of reading that will last your child a lifetime.

Early Intervention Therapies

If you have been worried that your toddler is not meeting their developmental milestones in relation to playful behavior and social interaction, and your gut is telling you they may need more support, TEIS Early Intervention can help you get answers.

If you have concerns, ask your pediatrician about Early Intervention therapies from TEIS Early Intervention.

At TEIS Early Intervention, our therapists listen to your concerns, assess your child’s individual needs, develop a customized treatment plan, and coach you along the way on simple routine-based solutions to maximize your child’s development in their natural environment.

Early Intervention evaluations and therapy services are available under the Federal Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities.  Before services can be provided, an independent evaluation of your child must be completed. To assure impartiality, one agency offers evaluation services while another provides therapeutic services.

To schedule an evaluation, call 1-800-692-7288 or email to