Any hints on how to read to an 18 month old? She doesn't seem interested and just chews on the pages. I'm not sure if she is too young or it's doing much good. Should I just leave it until she's older? Georgie

Read, read, and read I say!  Lots of babies and toddlers love to look at books, however you do get children who are not that interested or too distracted to pay attention to the book.  If this is happening then certainly need to work on their level of interest rather than give up.

How to do this?  Well there are a few strategies.  Firstly I’d pick the time of day that you try to read.  When your toddler is well rested is far better than last thing in the day when they are tired and wriggly to build up their concentration.  On another note I would add it into the bedtime routine however lets first start with getting them to sit still.

Stock up on a few cardboard books of your own, make sure they are ‘real life’.  By that I mean are books that talk about, show pictures, tell a story of real life.  Not talking dogs or trains, fairies or bunny rabbits.  Look for real content, a little boy or girl, trucks, household pictures, animals.  There is a range of touch n feel, scrunchy paper ones, noise making etc.

Look for books that have a white background and simple pictures to make concentration easy.  Cluttered and too busy is no good for beginning concentration.

Secondly change your expectations of sitting down, and reading the whole book from front cover to back cover.  At this point if you read one page and looked at that page that is a plus.  Keep your toddlers interest by making the noises of the animals, honking like a car horn…. You get pretty good at it.  Talk about the page, what is happening, animals, colours anything you like.  Don’t just think you have to read the words and then flip the page.

Stay on the page for as long as your child is interested.  You can tell by looking at their gaze.  As long as they are gazing at the page then stay their.  No rush.  Once your baby has broken their gaze, looked away from the page, then say, ‘lets turn the page’ and go to the next page.

Thirdly, if at this point they are wriggling and squirming, then take their cue and that is enough for the moment.  Give them a smile and move onto something else.  Don’t force the issue of reading.  Try again later or leave it till tomorrow. Tomorrow you might read two pages.  No pressure is the best method, make it fun.

And before you start all of this, turn the tv off, the radio off so there is no background noise while you are reading, this is exactly the same for when you are playing together, NO background artificial nosie.  Your baby is trying to learn a language and listen and attend their ear can be overwhelmed and find it difficult to work out which sounds to focus on when there is other noise in the background.  All these tips will certainly help and within in a few months, you will both be enjoying the whole book together.

Nicole Pierotti

Written by Nicole Pierotti

© Copyright 2012. No reprinting or publishing without permission from writer. For permission or further information contact nicole@babysmiles.com.au.

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