Reading to Babies Pre- and Post-Birth

We’re delighted that every Baby Box contains Baby’s Very First Black and White Book: Babies. It’s never too early to start reading to your baby – you can even start before they are born. Your baby can hear from when you are around 22-24 weeks pregnant, so they are listening!

Why read to babies pre-birth?

You may feel a bit silly at first, but research shows that there are many reasons to talk, sing and read to your baby before birth. It is a great way for mums, dads, and other family members to start bonding with the baby. Research has also shown that how babies experience speech before birth has an impact on their language development.

Babies learn language through hearing it, and even before birth, your baby is using speech, sound and rhythm to help them learn. Reading during pregnancy can be a lovely way for you to relax and get the whole family involved.

Unsure about how to start? Here are our top tips to keep in mind:

  • Dads have a very special role to play in reading to babies. It’s a great way for Dad and baby to have some special time together and start forming a bond. One dad wrote, ‘I felt like a dad since I’d started reading to Bump.’
  • Rhythmic and rhyming texts are easier for your baby to hear. Remember, your baby will be hearing their mother’s heartbeat and other sounds as well as your voice, and rhyming sounds are much clearer.
  • Watch for your baby’s response. You may notice that your baby is more active when they hear your voice.
  • Talk about the pictures – telling your baby about what is happening can be easier than thinking about new things to say to them.
  • Find a quiet place and limit noise from the television or radio.
  • Reading the same story again can be comforting. Babies love repetition, so if you are reading a short book, or saying a rhyme, repeat it a few times.
  • Read anything – newspapers, magazines, cereal boxes… all language matters to babies.
  • Make it a habit! Try to spend a few minutes every day reading or singing. If you’re looking for ideas, try our Song and Rhyme library.
  • Choose a book you like – it’s much easier if you enjoy the book too! Babies often respond particularly well to stories, songs and rhymes they heard before birth.

Sharing Baby’s Very First Black and White Book: Babies with your newborn:

Babies respond best to high-contrast books. They’re fascinated by the bold colours and patterns and they’ll love the pictures and patterns in this book.

There are lots of great ways to use the book to play with your baby. Try adding in car noises on the ‘busy baby’ page, hide behind your hands on the ‘peek-a-boo baby’ page and give your baby a warm cuddle on ‘cuddly baby’ page.  

Have a look at our video of a family sharing this book here.

After your baby is born:

  • Ask your Health Visitor about your free Bookbug Baby Bag
  • Come along to your free local Bookbug Sessions
  • Make sharing stories, songs and rhymes part of your every day at home.