Pregnancy bonding can start with books
Learning and literacy during pregnancy
Setting aside a time each day to read a book to your baby in utero is a great way to carve out a patch of calm during your pregnancy - and to set a pattern early for supportive, focused parenting.
Can reading to your child before he is born give him a learning advantage later on? Researchers won't give us a yes or no answer but any expectant mother will tell you time bonding with the baby she's carrying is valuable, even if it's just a few minutes to shift her focus from the noise and activity of everyday life to the small person quietly growing inside her.
While mums-to-be may find it calming to pick up a book and read to their baby at any point in pregnancy, the ritual has an added advantage after week 25. That's about the time baby begins to recognise voices - especially the voices of his parents, which he may find particularly soothing. So while you can always talk to your baby about all the things you're looking forward to doing together, you can also crack out a favourite book and soothe him with the sound of the voice he'll hear read to him for years to come.
Be sure to read something that you enjoy, whether it's a treasured book from your own childhood you're looking forward to sharing with him, or a classic you've been meaning to read, or even a magazine or newspaper. If you find it relaxing, your baby will as well. Also consider including your partner in your prenatal reading ritual. Fathers sometimes feel left out of the bond between mother and baby at this point. This is a good way to loop them in and give them a chance to establish their own connection.
Tips for reading to your baby in utero
- Don't feel silly. After about 25 weeks, your baby really can hear you (with surprising clarity, albeit at a slightly lower volume) and is beginning to recognise -- and be soothed by -- your voice.
- Carve out a regular time each day to read to your baby. This will give you a few moments each day to take a break from the hectic pace of your everyday life and focus on your connection to the small person growing inside you. You might choose to make it a bedtime ritual to calm you after your day -- or a morning date with your baby, before you rush off to work.
- If you can't manage a set time each day, don't sweat it. Anytime you can squeeze it in is fine.
- Integrate your partner. Reading is a great way for a father to bond with his baby in utero -- and an opportunity for the baby to grow to recognise his voice as well.
- Choose books with rhythmic language. Remember, the baby is responding to the tone and cadence of your voice rather than to the words themselves.
Don't be surprised if you hear your baby responding to the sound of your voice. Enjoy the connection -- and revel in the knowledge that it will only deepen over time.
Oh, Baby, the Places You'll Go!
Adapted by Tish Rabe from the works of Dr. Seuss
This charming book, subtitled "A Book to Be Read in Utero," is designed for parents to introduce their babies-to-be to the stories and sounds of the wondrous children's writer Dr. Seuss. "Baby, oh, baby, the places you'll go! The worlds you will visit! The friends you will know!" writes Rabe, in the whimsically exclamatory spirit of Seuss. "The horn-tooting apes from the Jungles of Jorn will hoot a big toot on the day you are born." Rabe's words accompany Dr. Seuss' illustrations. So much fun.
You Were Loved Before You Were Born
by Eve Bunting
Grandmother plants a rose. Grandfather pulls out a family rocking chair. An aunt decorates the walls and ceiling with stars. Everyone anticipates the birth of a new baby. In this book, family, friends and neighbors prepare for the arrival of the new person -- and that baby will know he or she has been loved from the very start. Your baby will, too. From Caldecott Medal-winning Eve Bunting and Karen Barbour, this book not only contains a lovely message; it's also packed with beautiful, warmly wrought illustrations.
Ma! There's Nothing to Do Here!
by Barbara Park, illustrated by Viviana Garofoli
If you're anxious for your baby to be born, imagine how he feels! Barbara Park, whom your child will know later as the author of the widely beloved Junie B. Jones books, wrote this funny book, from the perspective of a baby in the womb. Subtitled, "a word from your baby-in-waiting," this book, written in rhyme and augmented with lively, funny illustrations, will help you anticipate all the exciting things you can do with your child once he finally arrives.
I Can't Wait to Meet My Daddy
by Kathleen Blease, illustrated by Bruce Fackenthal
"For weeks and weeks now I've been growing by leaps and bounds, from my tiny heart to my fine fingers and toes, tucked inside my warm little home. … I can't wait to see the world. And most of all, I can't wait to meet my Daddy." Kathleen Blease's book, which she wrote for her husband when they were expecting their first son, is sweetly sentimental. With so many books dwell on the mummy-baby bond, it's really worth embracing a book that looks as gooily on a father's relationship with his child.
On the Night You Were Born
by Nancy Tillman
"On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, 'Life will never be the same.' Because there had never been anyone like you … ever in the world." This adorable book will help you anticipate the arrival of your baby, who will not be like any other baby … ever in the world. And you'll no doubt want to keep reading it to him after he's born. Nancy Tillman's prose is both intimate and jubilant, which, come to think of it, describes her illustrations, too.
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Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
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This simple story is a celebration of baby fingers, baby toes and the joy they bring to everyone all over the world! Mums say, "This is such a cute but clever book written in simple English with beautiful illustrations."
Guess How Much I Love You
by Sam McBratney, Illustrated by Anita Jeram
This heart-warming tale of two hares attempting to express their love for each other is simply irresistible. Mums say, "Parents love reading [this book] over and over again. The message of love is one we want to send our babies every day."
by Anthony Browne
This is a funny tribute to mums by acclaimed author and illustrator, Anthony Browne. With delightful drawings and sweet verses, this endearing book is a reading and bedtime story favourite to share. Mums say, "This is such a warm and funny, well-written book. My toddler loves it."