By Calmbirth Educator Sue Doogan
Have you started reading to your baby? Have you thought about it at all? Reading to your baby in the antenatal period is a great way to start connecting with him/her, particularly partners. Mums may report the baby as “not moving much” when listening to your words or they may report the reverse, lots of movements as the baby is excited to hear your voice. In the Calmbirth® Program with its Conscious Parenting aspect we discuss other ways for you to connect with your baby antenatally.
In the postnatal period, I have lost count of the number of parents that look at me incredulously when I ask if they have started reading to their baby. “Read, now?” are two of the most common words out of parent’s mouth. Talking to your baby as you go about your day to day activities all help to develop your baby’s language skills. Whether it’s pegging clothes on the line or nappy changes, preparing food, singing along to a song – it adds to the amount of words your baby is hearing and they are also watching your facial expressions as you form words. When we add reading into this mix – the results for your baby’s development in literacy, numeracy and brain growth etc. is truly wonderful. Also, the bonding and nurturing of your relationship that takes place between the two of you is as equally important!
Think of the amount of learning your baby will do in the next 12 months – it never ceases to amaze me! From starting out in life as a totally dependent being, for all life’s necessities – food, shelter, warmth, love, etc. to possibly walking (or not far off), babbling (a few words “da-da”, “ma –ma”, etc.), making sounds and gestures when they want/need something, feeding themselves finger food etc. etc. Babies are born to learn and it’s you, their parents who are guiding them from the very start. Reading to your baby has a lot to do with helping them develop in the future into well-rounded adults in particular their social, emotional and mental health.
Reading or storytelling is a lovely way to spend some one on one time or wind down after a busy day. You will have to look at your baby’s cues as to whether “now” is a good time to read – when your baby is not interested they will certainly show you! Don’t be disheartened; keep trying at different times of the day, different books, and different voices – even another language! Your baby loves listening to your voice whether it’s in speech or singing – the rhythm and rhyme that comes when we read children’s books or sing nursery rhymes or point to pictures in a book all add to your interaction with your baby – you will see their enjoyment. Here is just one link to a You Tube clip where the enjoyment that both father and son are getting from reading a book is priceless! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcR15DTDCsM.
Trying to build reading into your routine is the easiest way to make it happen. Cuddling and reading to your baby before you put them into bed is a lovely way to “signal” sleep is coming. Happy reading!
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