The main thrust is that just chattering at and with children is hugely more important than a bedtime read in creating a number of abilities.
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PUBLISHED: 18:17, 2 January 2015 | UPDATED: 18:55, 2 January 2015
Bedtime reading has traditionally been thought to boost a child's development - but in fact chatting while doing housework may be of greater benefit. This is according to Irish researchers who conducted a study on the impact of bedtime reading on 7,845 nine-month-old infants.
They found that absent-minded conversation was four times better at improving a child's communication skills than reading to them or showing them pictures.
Bedtime reading has traditionally been thought to boost a child's development - but in fact chatting while doing housework (stock image shown) may be of greater benefit, according to a recent study by Limerick University.
In the study, 94 per cent of infants had a parent show them pictures; 80 per cent of nine-month-olds were read to and 66 per cent of mothers reported always talking to their children.
Researchers at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found that as well as communication skills, chatting to children was three times better at improving problem solving skills.
Suzanne Egan, a lecturer in psychology at University of Limerick's Mary Immaculate College, told Eithne Shortall at the Sunday Times that she was surprised by the results.
'We would have thought that there might have been a good effect of reading, perhaps more so than the talking,' she said.
She said that it was easier for many parents to talk to their children regularly than devote all their attention and time to reading a book.
The researchers are now looking into longer-term impacts of reading and talking to children up to three years of age.
Last year, a group of experts suggested that reading to children has such a huge impact on their academic success that parents should do it from birth.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said in a policy statement that story time routines benefit even the youngest children, helping them to build vocabulary.
Experts say reading or storytelling in early life predicts how well children will do when they enter preschool.
In previous recommendations, the AAP has discouraged parents from exposing children under the age of two years to TV, which can be detrimental to language development.
A separate study by Hollins University in Virginia warned that background noise from the TV can adversely affect toddlers' language development.
They say it has long been known children develop their language skills from listening to their parents - and parents speak to their children less when the TV is on.
The quantity of words and phrases, as well as the number of new words spoken by the parents, was lower than when the TV was off.