THURSDAY, May 4, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- If you ever wondered whether reading Goodnight Moon to your baby every night was a waste of time, a new study suggests it wasn't.
The researchers followed more than 250 children from the age of 6 months to 54 months. The investigators found that kids whose mothers started reading to them in early infancy had better vocabulary and reading skills four years later, just before the start of elementary school.
"These findings are exciting because they suggest that reading to young children, beginning even in early infancy, has a lasting effect on language, literacy and early reading skills," said lead author Carolyn Cates. She is a research assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine.
"What they're learning when you read with them as infants still has an effect four years later when they're about to begin elementary school," she explained in a news release from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The findings show the importance of programs that promote parent-infant book reading soon after birth, Cates said.
The study is scheduled for presentation May 8 at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco. Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has more on speech and language development.