Little By Little

I'm always a little surprised when Baby A learns something that I've been trying to teach her. She's very bright, but I wonder how, between all the independent walking, milk-drinking, eating, drawer-emptying, and babbling, she has any time to listen to me. Katie left a comment (I love comments!!) and asked for tips on making reading time with a 4-month-old less squirmy and more sweet, and while I know I don't have anything to tell her that she doesn't already know, I enjoyed thinking about how babies work: little by little, led by love.

Some pointers:

Read frequently, with Baby's interest as your guide. If it's hard to leave a 6-page book half-read, free your wriggling baby but finish it out loud to yourself. (I've found that when Baby A wriggles away and grabs a different book or toy, but I keep reading the original, she comes back to my lap to finish it.) Baby's attention span will increase over time, but it will also go through spurts of being extra short or extra long. 

Make reading time cuddle time... or don't. I've said before that reading is a wonderful bonding activity, and that positive experiences foster a love of reading--still true. But there may be phases where the timing doesn't line up perfectly for a cuddly, attentive reading session. Just read anyway, while Baby is in the bath (fully supervised), is being fed, or is kicking in excitement over the fan.

Read favorites repeatedly. Babies bond with the familiar, and learn by recognizing patterns. (Baby A pointed to identify something I asked about for the first time last week! We've read that particular book and I've asked that particular question a bajillion times, and now I know she's paying attention and learning!)

Read what you enjoy to Baby, because your voice and attention are what Baby cares about. Baby may not remember what the story is about, or even know what a story is, but Baby does remember your body language and voice tones.

Before you know it, Baby will be reading to their Baby, so don't let worry or unmet expectations get in the way of the little moments now. In other words, take what you can get and give what you can give!

Little by little, led by love.

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