When children are read to every day there’s a significant positive impact on reading skills and cognitive skills, such as numeracy and maths. Research demonstrates time and again benefits in their development right up until the age of 11, and those benefits last later in life. In Manchester we taught parents to read to their babies from 6 weeks of age. The earlier you begin reading to your baby the more the chance your child will be a lifelong reader. When a parent reads books in the home and particularly the father the more likely a boy child will be a lifelong reader. And it doesnt translate to reading an electronic device, it must be a physical copy of a book.
I spend a lot of time in nurseries/children's bedrooms with my work as a baby sleep guru.
Parents often find choosing a good bedtime book a bit difficult.
Reading a book as part of a bedtime routine is so really important. Reading helps the wind down process, it's a transition from a busy day to the land of nod. And as we know routines reduce cortisol, the stress hormone and increase endorphins, the feel good hormone.
Babies appreciate a bedtime story from 6 weeks to 3 months old. It's also good to think about your bedtime routine and what it should look like. Maybe a bath, massage and a milk feed. Doing the routine in the same order and keep your baby and infant, especially the under two's away from the TV as this interferes with the neurotransmitter, melatonin helping baby get to sleep and stay asleep.
My preferred bedtime routine is
For a baby on solids, evening meal at 5pm, bath at 5:30-6pm.
One story, milk feed and then a second storybook with a sleep theme, then down to sleep sometime around 6:30pm but responding to tired signs.
A book just before bed separates out the feeding and sleeping and reduces the chance of baby falling to sleep feeding before being put in the cot.
Having a regular bedtime book helps the process. Babies and children learn by repetition. It's really important the story is not too long and not too many words. Babies have a low boredom threshold! Only a sentence or two on each page with lots of pictures and not too long, 10-15 pages.
Sit your baby on your lap facing outwards and point to the words as you're reading. Putting your finger underneath the words as they're being read helps your baby and learning. It's related to patterns and sequences and an early introduction to maths. Then point out a few other things on the page and talk about them.
It's also helpful if sleep is a theme in the last book directly before bed.
Here's a list of my favourite bedtime books and hopefully some of these might make their way into your bedtime routine. Happy reading!
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
- It's Time To Sleep My Love by Nancy Tillman
- Kissed by The Moon by Alison Lester
- Baby Touch Bedtime Book - a ladybird book that stimulates the senses with a rhythmic text to soothe baby.
- Where is the green sheep? - Mem Fox & Judy Horacek
- Twinkle, twinkle little star - amazing baby (Great Ormond Street Hospital)
- Guess how much I love you - Sam McBratney
- Time for bed - Mem Fox
- Sweet Dreams, Maisy by Lucy Cousins
- Goodnight Baby Moon by James Mitchem
Tickle My Ears by Jorg Muhle
- Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter (I'm from the Lake District where Beatrix spent most of her life penning these children's classics and this is Mr McGregor's garden)
Tell me your favourite bedtime book you like to use for your baby. I'm sure there's heaps that aren't on my list!