I am happy to present Melissa Droegemueller from Rolling Prairie Readers as our expert this week on our blog. A teacher by trade with over ten years’ experience in classrooms and small group settings. She is currently a homeschooling mom to her two daughters and an early education advisor. Today she is sharing ” Reading Aloud to Your Baby” pulling from her personal experience and of others.  Karen shares from her heart and experience in this post. I found the post very helpful and encouraging. She can help you have a great relationship with your kids and be the mom that you always wanted to be. 

Reading Aloud to Your Baby

Nine years ago, our first daughter entered the world 14 weeks early. She was one pound, eight ounces of pure, feisty determination. Those first weeks were hard, with two life-saving surgeries before she was even a month old. I couldn’t hold her, couldn’t change her diaper, and I couldn’t even breastfeed her. (I did pump faithfully every three hours for her feeding tube.)

The only thing I could do was talk to her. Babies in the womb typically hear their mother’s voice all day. My baby and I were separated too soon, and our only bonding time was 10-15 minutes of “containment” every three hours.

Our NICU had an open floor plan, so while I was washing my hands one day, I saw another mom who had been there for a while. She was sitting in a rocking chair, holding her baby, and reading a book out loud. At that moment, I knew how Addie and I would be able to bond during her long hospital stay.  

The next day, I lugged in a huge tote bag full of children’s books. I read in the morning, I read in the afternoon, and I read before going home at night. I left stacks of books by her bedside for nurses and family members to read aloud when I wasn’t there. I even read some of my parenting books out loud, since I didn’t have a chance to finish them before delivery!

One of the best parenting books I read during those early months was Reading Magic by Mem Fox. Ms. Fox is a talented children’s author who is passionate about the benefits of reading to our children. She says, “Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read. Or the same story a thousand times!” (source)  

What are the benefits of reading to your baby?

  • You are giving your infant your undivided attention, eye contact, and physical touch when you read aloud.
  • Your child hears the rhythmic sounds of your voice and is exposed to richer language, complex vocabulary, and more challenging words that are typically used in everyday conversations.    
  • When you read aloud to your baby, his or her brain is building synapses (connections) between new concepts and those that are already mastered.
  • Reading aloud is a huge part of a family culture built around books, along with regular trips to the library and seeing adults in the household regularly read for pleasure.

When should you start reading to your baby?

It is never too early or too late to begin! Reading is important for all stages of child development. I often tell new parents that the benefit of starting early is that you are building good habits from the beginning! If you’re not quite confident reading aloud with your newborn, start with audiobooks during feeding sessions. Prop up board books during tummy time, add a bathtime book to the tub, and tuck a book into the diaper bag for story time on-the-go.   

What should you look for when choosing books for your baby?

The best books for babies are the ones you read aloud. (Seriously.) When you are at the bookstore or library, choose books that YOU will want to read.  My best advice is to look for books that:

  • Are durable and sturdy
  • Have interesting illustrations
  • Contain rhyming or repeating text
  • Introduce diverse characters
  • Include interactive features, such as texture, sound, flaps, etc.

Begin adding books to your family library as soon as possible. Soon, you will have a treasured collection of stories to read aloud with your baby!

 “When I say to a parent, “read to a child”, I don’t want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate.” 
― Mem FoxReading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever

Reading Aloud to Your Baby

Melissa Droegemueller

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Melissa Droegemueller is a homeschooling mom to her two daughters and an early education advisor. She is passionate about learning through play, chasing adventures, and celebrating good books. Her online community, Rolling Prairie Readers, is a place where all moms are free to leave comparisons behind and embrace the parent they were meant to be.

Visit http://rollingprairiereaders.com/ to find out more!

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