Early Experiences Matter

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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

What do babies think when they look at pictures in a book?

Q: What do babies think when they look at pictures in a book?

A: Even very young babies are able to focus on and pay attention to pictures in a book, although they don't yet know what the pictures mean.  Gazing at pictures is a first step in picture recognition, an important skill that eventually leads to understanding the meaning of pictures and words.

Beginning at about 4 months, babies start to show a focused interest in pictures in a book. They will gaze at a picture for several moments and show obvious interest in the colors and shapes. They don't yet know that the pictures are symbols that represent things and ideas - but they are drawn to brightly colored pages and photos. They also like to see pictures of babies like them doing things they do. It is also common for babies to prefer a particular page of a book and look at it longer than other pages.

Early experiences with books build babies’ familiarity and interest in books and reading, so it’s never too early to start.




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