Posts Tagged ‘bonding’

Why reading aloud to your baby is so important

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

AA baby mom dad brother in NICU.jpg.resizedDid you know that reading to your baby helps promote language skills? Science has shown that reading to your baby helps build vocabulary, speech, and later reading comprehension, literacy and overall intelligence. Yet, less than half of children under the age of 5 are read to every day.

Reading aloud to your child is such an important aspect of language development that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers guidance on how to read to your child, including book suggestions for every age.

But what if your baby is in the NICU?

Even if your baby is in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), it is still incredibly valuable to read to him. The March of Dimes is partnering with Jack and Jill of America, Inc. to provide books to families who have a baby in a NICU. Parents are encouraged to choose books and read to their babies as often as they can.

In this resource, the AAP explains “Why it is never too early to read with your baby.” They say: “When parents talk, read, and sing with their babies and toddlers, connections are formed in their young brains. These connections build language, literacy, and social–emotional skills at an important time in a young child’s development. These activities strengthen the bond between parent and child.”

Why start reading today?

Today is World Read Aloud Day, a perfect time to start a new routine of reading to your child.

If you’re not sure what to read, you can ask your local librarian in the children’s room. You can also acquire books for a home library at second hand stores or even recycling stations. The “dump” in the town where I raised my kids has a book shed where you can drop off or pick up used books for free. And don’t forget, garage or yard sales are great places to get books for nickels. Having a mini-library at home has been shown to help children get off on the right academic foot.

But perhaps the best reason to read to your child is because it brings you together. The snuggles and cuddles, laughter and silliness that may result from reading a wonderful book, brings happiness to both parent and child.

Whether it is in the NICU or at home, reading aloud to your child is one of the most powerful things you will ever do. So grab a book, snuggle up, and enjoy!

 

It’s good – no, it’s GREAT – to read to your baby

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

reading programRead to your baby- it’s fun for both of you. And now the AAP says it is important for your baby’s language and brain development, too. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Someone once asked me how old my children were when I started reading to them. Honestly, it was not like I flipped a switch and then pulled out a book. I read to them as soon as they could open their eyes. I remember my son being on my lap and barely able to hold his head up as I read him a soft “baby book” with huge, colorful shapes and pictures. He sat there enthralled, gazing at the colors with wide eyes. Sometimes he would lunge forward to touch the colors. He was barely three months old.

When I gave birth to my daughter two years later, I would sit on my large blue chair with my son on one leg and my daughter nestled on my arm on my other leg. My son would turn the pages and I would read to both of them. I treasured our special time together, and my kids absolutely loved it. Even though my kids are in their twenties now, I still have the “reading chair” and just sitting in it evokes the sweetest of memories for me. But, perhaps the best part of this bonding ritual was that both my children grew to love reading at a very early age.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is actively urging pediatricians to tell parents to read to their child from infancy. Reading aloud helps to promote language skills – vocabulary, speech, and later reading comprehension, literacy and overall intelligence. The AAP suggests that pediatricians extol the virtues of reading to children at each “well child” visit. Reading to your child is right up there with proper nutrition and vaccinations. Yup – according to science, reading aloud to kids is good for them.

Where to get books

You don’t need to own a large library to read to your child. Kids love repetition and will ask to hear the same story over and over again. (How many times did I read Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman?!!!). But if you just can’t pick up that same book again, head to your local library where the children’s section is sure to bring out your inner child. As your baby gets older, make reading interactive – have him point to the truck when you say the word. Then have him repeat the word or say it with you. Watch as his vocabulary begins to grow. You can practically “see” the connections being made.

Another place to acquire books for a home library is at second hand stores or even recycling stations. The “dump” in the town where I raised my kids has a book shed where you can drop off or pick up used books for free. And don’t forget, garage or yard sales are great places to get books for nickels. Having a mini-library at home has been shown to help children get off on the right academic foot.

When your little one is a toddler, check out library story hours for parents or caregivers and children. It may soon become the highlight of your week.

Bottom line

It is never too early to start reading to your baby or too late to start reading to your child. Not only will reading aloud help to boost language skills from an early age, but it will promote bonding and closeness between you and your child. Who knows what world a book may open up to you and your baby?

So, grab a book, snuggle up and start reading. You’ll never regret it.

 

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” in the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date (just keep scrolling down). We welcome your comments and input. Email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Massaging your baby

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

There are lots of benefits to infant massage – benefits to baby and to parents alike. Parents bond closer to their baby and communicate better through this gentle touch and babies, even ones with colic, have a whole host of health benefits.

Studies have shown that infant massage promotes the release of growth hormones; it lowers the level of stress hormones which improves the immune function; it improves blood circulation and the absorption of food; it reduces colic and improves sleep (which will improve sleep for parents, too!). In premature infants, it can improve weight gain and motor development.

So when and how do you do this? It’s best to wait for baby to be in a calm state when starting massage. Some parents find the time right after a baby’s bath to be ideal. Find a warm, quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed by others or the phone. Take off jewelry so you won’t accidentally scratch your little beauty and wash your hands in warm water to warm them up.

Place your naked baby on a towel or soft blanket and, using a small amount of edible oil, like olive oil or vegetable oil (you know your baby’s hands and possibly feet are going to find their way into her mouth), gently use your fingertips and palms of your hands to massage your baby. Use a light touch and don’t use more pressure than you would when you massage your own temples. Talk in a low soothing tone.

Keep oils away from your baby’s face, but be sure to gently rub her temples and forehead. Using your thumbs, make her upper lip smile and lower one frown. Rub her ears from the bottom of the lobe to the top of each ear. Place both hands together on the middle of her chest and gently push out to the sides, then circle back to the center of her chest. Massage your baby’s tummy in a circular pattern going in a clockwise direction as you look down at her. Rub the arms and legs from shoulder to fingertips, hip to toe with gentle squeezes and light twists. Gently knead her thighs. You can hold her ankles and slowly make bicycling movements while she bends her knees. You might get some chuckles out of this one, not to mention little baby toots!

Infant massage can last for 15 minutes or as long as you both like. Once she is crawling, it might not last more than a minute or two! Enjoy your special time together.

Online shopping and pregnancy hormones don’t mix

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

My sister and mother-in-law are going to kill me. I just made a huge impulsive purchase online. I bought the entire crib set, including the mobile, valance, wall hangings…you name it I bought it. Right down to the little giraffe night light. Wait until my husband gets a hold of the AmEx bill. DOH! I don’t know what came over me. I was innocently searching for baby names when I came across decorating tips for nurseries. Well, one thing led to another. Before I knew it I was starring right at the order confirmation number. I thought about returning some of the things because I know my family will throw me a shower, but I really don’t want to. It was the first time any of this seemed real and I felt really close to my baby. I shouldn’t feel guilty about that, right? How does that sound? Hopefully my husband will accept that explanation. Shopping is fun…woo hoo!!