'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Speechie's Couch: Books and Bubs

In the early months, babies naturally attend longer to faces than inanimate objects. This is a survival mechanism. They need to be intimately involved with people to survive, so that’s where they look, but they can’t actually focus yet.

The media loves to show snaps of tiny tots touching iPads and smart phones, but is it healthy to introduce technology so soon? And what about books? Everyone has a different point of view on books, so I’ll give you mine.

All typically-developing babies pass through milestones:

At one month: babies visually track slow-moving objects and turn toward diffuse light. They startle at loud sounds, and their bodies still at the tinkling of a bell. However, they don’t have enough postural stability to interact with their world just yet.

By three months: babies begin to lift their heads and ‘find their fingers’. Hand-eye coordination is at its most basic. They might reflexively grasp a toy, but can’t yet look at it at the same time.

At six months: Babies will reach and grasp, put things to their mouth, and be immersed in the world of cause and effect. Their eyes are now working together, so it’s time for baby books.

Where do you start?

Big, bold, bright colours are perfect. Dark outlines on illustrations help too, but forget fine paper. Babies can be brutal at this age. Their motor skills are more attuned to bang and break, so let them bang a book.

Thick cardboard pages, plastic bath books and even cloth varieties are the perfect beginning, but remember: it’s the shared experience that is important at this age. Leave the bells and whistles till later.

Jo Burnell is KBR's Development Editor and resident paediatric speech pathologist. A reviewer of children’s and YA books and shortlisting judge for Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year, Jo is familiar with effective writing for Upper Primary and Secondary students.