Many parents don't realize that their baby will benefit from being read to at the earliest age possible--while still in the womb. Unborn babies will even learn to recognize and respond to sounds that they hear repeatedly. We still have much to learn about prenatal development, but it is obvious that learning occurs before birth, and it is possible for parents to have some amount of influence on this learning.
So, you may be wondering, what is the point in reading a book to my belly? For one thing, simply talking to your baby is a great bonding exercise for the whole family. It helps mom to feel more in tune with what is going on in that belly and feel emotionally close to the baby. It can be especially great for dads, who often feel that they're watching the pregnancy from afar, to begin communicating with the baby and thinking of it as a real person--as his son or daughter. The unborn baby can hear many sounds from within the womb. One of the loudest and most frequent is its mama's voice, which it will be able to recognize after birth. For the baby, hearing its parents' voices may aid in the early development of intelligence and healthy emotions.
Not only being communicated with, but hearing the story is good for the baby. Research has shown that if a baby is repeatedly read the same story while in the womb, it will begin to recognize the story and settle down when it is read. Not only is this effect seen before birth, but reading the book to the newborn shows a similar calming and comforting response. This could be a big help for new parents who are just learning how to calm a crying baby or settle baby down for a nap.
A specific suggestion for beginning to bond with your unborn child is "Oh Baby, the Places You'll Go!: A Book to Be Read in Utero." This neat little book was written by Tish Rabe with just this purpose in mind. It was inspired by Dr. Seuss' classic childrens' stories, and his fans will enjoy the way it introduces little ones to the world of Seuss and all of his classic characters. However, you don't hae to be familiar iwth Seuss to aprreciate the rhyming rhythms of "Oh Baby, the Places You'll Go", which is exactly what makes it a great choice for your baby's first book.
Making storytime a continuing habit as your child grows will only have benefits in his or her educational future and relationship with family. The same book may get old after a while though, so be sure to provide some variety!
Turns out that babies can start to recognize sounds and language while being cozy inside their mother's womb. Research teams in Sweden and the United States lead by professor Christine Moon tested hours j-old newborns on how they responded to vowel sounds from their mother language and from a foreign language. Not only did the babies respond to the sound of their recognizable language but the new foreign ones as well. Smart little "cookies" they are.
Read on and read always! Happy Monday!