It’s December! Oh- My- Gosh-Where-Has-This-Year-Gone?!
While I love seeing the Xmas decorations go up around town, I always get this little pre- present buying panic. Usually I like to gift homemade goodies, however, as I’m overseas this might be a little tricky this year.
One of my friends is giving birth to her first child early next year so when I saw this post by the lovely Melbourne Mums Guide about books for newborns, I knew I had hit the present jackpot. What a fantastic idea!
Books are for children what handbags and shoes are for women. They simply can’t get enough of books. What I love about this article is that books are just as relevant and important for newborns as they are for older children.
I hope you find this post as informative, inspiring and gorgeous as I do! Enjoy!
When is the right time to start reading to your newborn? It’s a question a lot of new mothers will ask, and the answer is… it’s never too early. You can begin right from birth.
There are so many wonderful benefits of reading to your newborn. The Raising Children’s Network suggests why it’s important to read to newborns:
+ Helps to promote your baby’s development; familiarity with sounds, words and language
+ Promotes interest in books
+ Builds their early literacy skills to help them read successfully later in life
+ Stimulates their imagination and helps them learn about the world around them
+ A beautiful bonding experience with your baby
But with so many books out there, it can be tricky knowing where to start. You may find yourself asking: “Will my baby really understand what I’m reading? What books should I choose? I hope I’m not over-stimulating bubs before bedtime”
In search of a ‘guide to books for newborns’, we popped into Reader’s Feast Bookstore where we met Allison Belcher, a former library manager at The Melbourne Athenaeum Library (Melbourne’s oldest subscription library) and a literary neighbour of Reader’s Feast Bookstore.
Allison has a special interest in the value of reading to newborns – what to read and how to read to newborns.
What we learnt will help any new mum navigate the world of reading to newborns and babies. We also recommend books that help newborns with ‘settling’.
Did you know that reading to your newborn can be an effective settling technique?
Advice from a lactation nurse at the Royal Women’s Hospital to her daughter inspired Allison to further research reading to newborns as a settling technique. Here’s an interesting way of looking at it. You naturally start singing nursery rhymes to your baby when she is unsettled. The rhyme, rhythm and repetition are immediately soothing. In the same way, reading books that follow the ‘three Rs’ is a perfect way of helping with settling before bedtime.
If you’re reading as a settling technique, choosing the right books is important to make sure you’re not over stimulating. For example, books such as the popular ‘Where is the Green Sheep’ by Mem Fox, or nursery rhymes like ‘Jack and Jill’ and ‘Humpty Dumpty’ that are more suited to ‘awake’ time.
A guide to selecting books for newborns and babies
Newborns: Newborns tend to see only between 20-35 centimetres away and are limited in their ability to see colour. Your newborn can see black, white and gray, not seeing the full spectrum of colours until 3 months. Black and white books such as From the Nest, by Jill Brailsford are suggested here. The crinkly material provides sensory stimulation and the simplicity of the book means that it can be read in a slow and calming tone.
2 Months: At 2 months, most infants have red/colour vision which is why Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown is perfect. The images in this book are engaging and clear. Some images are in red and green hues, some in high contrasting black and white. The rhyme is soothing and simple, making it a perfect settling book.
4 months: At 4 months babies start to respond to changes in tone; are interested in toys that make sounds, enjoy rhythm and music, and look in an interested way for the source of new sounds.
Nursery Rhymes: With a sing-along music CD. This large book contains 23 nursery rhymes and a sing-along music CD. The cardboard pages have a back-stick sewing pattern around the outline of the pictures for baby to touch and feel.
Time for Bed, by Mem Fox. This is a perfect ‘settling’ book for newborns with gentle illustrations and rhythmic verses. Mem Fox is one of Australia’s most loved children’s authors and literacy consultant who has written so many beautiful and hugely popular books for newborn such as ‘Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes’.
6 months: By 6 months, babies reach 20 – 20 vision. Some great books are: Splish..splash..splosh! By Mary Cartwright & Rachel Wells. This bath book is suitable for newborns and can be taken to bath time, which may be perfect as an inclusion in the settling routine before bed. The squishy feel of the book encourages your baby to hold the book.
Orange Pear Apple Bear, by Emily Gravett. It’s the simplicity of the rhyme and rhythm and beautiful illustration that makes it a perfect choice for newborns. Each page is simple and calm – either a picture by itself, a picture with a word or two, or four words by themselves.
7 months: At 7 Months, babies turn to look at a face when called by name. Some suggested books are: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? By Bill Martin Jr. The rhyme and repetition and wonderful bold illustrations make it a classic for newborns and young children. It helps young children associate colours and the names of animals and birds – Yellow Dock, White Dog, Blue Horse …
Each Peach Pear Plum, by Allan Ahlberg. The wonderful rhyming text makes it perfect for settling newborns and as your baby grows, it will become a favourite ‘I spy’ book with beautiful and detailed illustrations.
The process of reading to newborns
We found this article very useful: Ten read-aloud commandments by Mem Fox, the Australian author of popular books – ‘Ten Little Finger and Ten Little Toes’, ‘Where is the Green Sheep, and ‘Possum Magic’. Many mothers might even remember ‘Possum Magic’ from their own childhood. It’s a classic.
Another interesting fact we learned is that the way in which you read plays an important part in developing baby’s four senses.
// Touch occurs when the parent or carer holds the baby to read to them, which is also important for bonding, and brain development. Mem Fox also advises parents to separate the pages of the books to get it ready. Your baby will quickly learn to turn the pages on their own
// Sight – when your baby sees the book and its pictures
// Hearing – when your baby hears your voice, the different tones and volumes in your voice, whether you’re animated or reading slowly to have a soothing effect
// Smell – your baby can smell you when you are holding them closely, which is important in bonding.
I would love to know what books your newborns and little ones enjoy. Have you considered reading to your newborn baby? Comment below. If you know anyone looking for a gift for a newborn send this article to them!
Top image via Instagram @nataliedarling21
Melbourne Mums Guide is an online destination for mums living or vising Melbourne. We aim to be a source of inspiration for all mothers and caretakers to make the most of this beautiful city with their little ones. With a finger on the pulse for quality products, services and things to do, we delight in sharing our latest finds and the ability to support local businesses.