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Share a Book With Baby

When your child chews on a book mid-story, you might wonder: Is he really getting anything out of this? Absolutely, says Caroline Blakemore, coauthor of Baby Read-Aloud Basics. Hearing you read boosts his language skills and shows him books are entertaining. To get the most out of reading together:

Establish a routine. When your baby's alert, read to him in a quiet spot for a few minutes twice a day. He'll soon look forward to regular time with books.

Talk the talk. Speaking in a slow singsong voice with stretched-out vowels  -- a.k.a. "parentese"  -- helps your baby discriminate sounds within words. By the time he's 9 to 12 months old, he'll be able to understand a lot of what he hears, so emphasize new words-  -- he'll pick them up quickly.

Don't just plow through. If he chimes in with coos, answer him ("Yes, there's Mommy duck!"). As his vision improves (from 4 to 8 months), point to the pictures and talk about them. Insert his name into the story to grab his attention, and explain what you're doing ("Let's turn the page").

Get physical. Rock your baby to rhymes, guide his fingers over textures in touch-and-feel books, or help him clap his hands as you read.

Go with the flow. Your baby may skip pages or close the book before you've finished. That's okay  -- follow his lead.

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