WORLD BOOK DAY – Reading begins in the womb
BABYOPATHY CAMPAIGN – Read to your bump & beyond!
“World Book Day is the biggest celebration of its kind designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading” from worldbookday.com
World Book Day is designed to encourage reading from children as young as pre-school. However, the love of reading should begin earlier and the foundation for that love and the skills needed to read actually begins in the womb!
For this World Book Day I want everyone to join my campaign to introduce reading where it actually begins – in the womb, and here’s how to do it…..
All of your baby’s senses begin their development in the womb and their hearing specifically is one that you can nurture and develop. The indentations that will become their ears form around 9 weeks of pregnancy and by approximately 17/18 weeks your baby will hear their first sounds! This continues to develop over the next few weeks and so by 24 weeks they become more sensitive to sound. The next few weeks after this your baby will begin to respond to the sounds your baby hears through the womb.
Babyopathy nurtures this ability to naturally help your baby develop – hence reading begins in the womb!
Choose the same time each day, I suggest early evening when you would be looking to introduce ‘bedtime’ for your baby, sit comfortably with no distractions and read to your baby. Choose a simple story and one that you enjoy reading as how you read is just as important as reading itself.
One of my favourite first books was ‘Dear Zoo’ by Rod Campbell, not too long and one that is easy to read with enthusiasm using different voice tones. This is important as it is rhythms and tones that your baby will initially recognise not words.
This is why reading begins in the womb. Your baby will recognise your voice tones and the patterns of your voice when reading the story. However, there are many other benefits to you doing this!
- You will be relaxing which means you will be producing serotonin which is well known for the role it plays in your mood and reducing stress and anxiety. When you are stressed your body produces cortisol which can pass through the womb to your baby which can have a direct effect on their brain development. The more you relax, the less cortisol you produce.
- By reading to your baby your voice tones and patterns will be familiar and therefore comforting to your baby when they are born in to a world of sensory overload!
- By reading at the same time each day (around the time you want to introduce bedtime) you will be creating a familiar routine before your baby is even born helping you to establish their routine in their first few weeks.
Baby’s first weeks – Bedtime!
Your baby is here and that means you actually get to read to your baby but for now we are just going to stick to the bedtime routine as this is a very important part of their wellbeing. Learning the difference between day and night does not come naturally to your baby as its been quite dark in their world until now with only hues of colour such as a warm peachy glow – which is one reason why I advocate using Himalayan salt lamps where your baby sleeps but that is a whole other blog! Hopefully, if you have followed our ‘Routine in the Womb’ campaign you will have been reading to your baby every night as part of your own relaxation routine to nurture their post-natal routine. The reason we start with the bedtime story and keep only to this one for the first 6 weeks is to encourage your baby to recognize that this is the start of ‘night time’ and eventually sleeping through the night. Following the same routine as you have been doing when pregnant will reinforce what your baby has been experiencing until now and nurture them in to a day and night routine.
Your bedtime story will be different to reading during the day.
- Set the right ‘bedtime’ environment; after bath time when they are warm and settled, dim the lights, use a reading light or your salt lamp
- Quieten your voice and be expressive but not excitable (the aim is to be familiar, comforting and encourage sweet dreams).
- Repetition is key and at the same time of time as this is how habits form and a routine is just a habit after all.
As well as continuing to read your chosen bedtime story (at bedtime) you can also introduce reading throughout the day! At this time I would keep it simple and one of my favourite books for this age is ‘That’s not my Baby’ by Usborne Books. It is a cute little book that also enables you to stimulate more of your baby’s senses by touching the different textures and seeing themselves in the mirror at the end. My son was holding his own head and very interested in the world around him at 5 weeks old and so simple books that he could also experience by touching he loved! This is where you can really become expressive with your storytelling. Tone and expression of voice, your own interest and excitement in the story is what will inspire your baby, not just to eventually read and enjoy books but also to develop their own sense of awe and wonder, expression and excitement.
Babies and children, like any baby in nature, will learn by watching you, seeing your reaction and analyzing it and deciding whether to experience it for themselves. This of course means they can pick up on your fear of spiders for example (my particular phobia) if you allow them to see it. Not because THEY are scared of the spider but because YOU showed them your fear and they learned after watching and anaylising your behavior that that is the way to react.
What it also means though is that you can influence and nurture their responses in a very positive way. How you read to your baby is crucial to their development.
- Be present in the story, this may sound strange but if your mind is really thinking about something else you should be doing then you will just be reading the words, not the story.
- Don’t be self-conscious, your baby hasn’t learnt judgement or criticism (they will only learn that from you in time if you let them see it!) so you can tell the story as animated as you dare.
- Be animated, this is an obvious follow on from the last point but a valid one in its own right. By making the story interesting using your tone of voice or different voices if there are characters or using sound effects etc will light a spark in your baby’s imagination and interest.
- Be interactive, with animation gives you the opportunity to involve your baby. Help them to touch the textures (many baby books will have touch and feel pages), say the word as they experience the feeling of ‘fluffy or smooth’. As they grow, point to the word ‘duck’ and say it as well as then pointing to the picture of a duck as you say it. Your baby will be absorbing all of this information and so when you take a walk in the park and they see a duck they will surprise you by pointing to it. In time they will also be able to say ‘duck’ as they point and read the word from the book because of the repetition and inspiration from you!
As always, I must stress that babies are all unique and whilst some may fall in to the routine you nurture straight away, others will not. Above all, do not get stressed and do not think you have ‘failed’ as you have not. You should use all of these tips as things to try to encourage and nurture your baby’s own will and personality and eventually you will both get there. Individuality is a beautiful thing, embrace it and nurture that too!
Further resources can be found on the Babyopathy website leading up to World Book Day
Angela has owned and operated children’s nurseries for over 20 years opening her first in 1993 at the age of 21. After neither of her children slept through the night for their first three years, Angela decided to research deeper in to child development and everything that can nurture or have an adverse effect on it. This research quickly took the route of sensory stimulation and the first programme called Natural Care was introduced in to her Angels at Play nurseries in 2000.
This research did not stop there though, however, and from using her own natural imagery within the nurseries, Angela began researching the impact of the natural world on development and came across the biophilia hypothesis which is also now incorporated in to her newly named Nascuropathy Programme and Babyopathy (for pregnancy and under 1’s).
Angela is not a doctor and cannot give medical advice. Babyopathy and it’s components should be used as a compliment to medical advice and not as a replacement for medical care.