The time in the rocking chair after you’ve fed, burped, bathed, and changed your baby can be the most peaceful part of the day. You’re creating a relaxing ritual for you and your baby. Add books, and you’ll discover the secret of an effective baby bedtime routine: the benefits of reading stories with your baby are endless.
Pssst…Bedtime Stories Help With Sleep Training
Let’s face it—most of the time, when you’re doing something with your baby, there’s a teensy bit of ulterior motive. Playing with your baby is delightful, but it also tires them out for nap time. A bottle and a fresh diaper may keep your baby happy and quiet for the hour you need to finish that report or make that important call.
Baby bedtime routines that include reading to your baby can be an effective form of sleep training. It makes way for the warm snuggle time with Mom or Dad that helps babies positively associate feelings of security and calm with getting ready for bed. They’ll be confident that parents don’t disappear at bedtime and that it’s OK to hit the hay and conk out for several hours.
Reading Stories Reduces Stress
It’s a given that you consistently feel stressed out, Mama, but your baby feels stress at times, too. It’s a big, bright, noisy world out here. Sitting together, calm and warm in the glider, relieves stress for both of you. Add a favorite blanket or some treasured cashmere stuffed animals, and the two of you might not make it to the end of the story before feeling dozy enough to say nighty-night.
Reading Stories Develops Language Skills
Kids whose parents read to them regularly show more substantial neural development, especially in the areas of the brain that process language. So pat yourself on the back when you stretch out the “ee” in “bee,” the “oo” in “moon,” or the “ow” in “cow.” You’re teaching your baby the phonetic building blocks of language.
Stories Develop Emotional Intelligence
When you deepen your voice to sound like the big bad wolf or gasp with amazement when Jack’s magic beans grow into the giant beanstalk, your baby is learning non-verbal aspects of communication. Pitch, tone, speed, volume, and facial expressions communicate the emotional impact of the story as well as the action, and your baby picks up that there’s more to communication than words alone.
When you develop a bedtime routine that includes reading to your baby, you’re giving yourself a great wind-down to the day while giving your baby a head start on language and communication skills. Not every bedtime book must be sleep-themed, but sneak in the sleepy one last, and you might buy yourself a few extra minutes for a bath or glass of wine before you nod off yourself!