Reading to your baby before they are born is a great way to relax and bond with your little one, and to start a lifelong love of books.
Research has shown that foetuses can hear your voice and other sounds from around 23 weeks. And some studies suggest reading to them (as well as singing and talking) helps their early cognitive development too.
Whilst it can seem a little strange at first to read to your bump, it is a lovely way to help you relax and to get into the habit of reading to your little one before they are even born. And it’s a great opportunity to get your partner involved, start bonding, and get baby more used to their voice too.
Experts at The Reading Womb report that, once born, babies can be calmed by listening to the rhythmic stories that were read to them regularly in the third trimester (this is the same of music and songs).
Which books to choose
If you’re reading to your little one in the womb, it’s best to pick a story book rather than a traditional first baby board book, for the simple fact that these have more words. The most important thing is to choose books that you will enjoy reading. Perhaps pick a story that you remember enjoying as a young child (is there still a copy in your parents’ attic?), or speak to other parents to find out which their favourites are.
Stories with a rhyme or rhythm have been shown to be the most beneficial for helping language development (and as a parent, I tend to find these most enjoyable to read too).
You can’t go wrong with Julia Donaldson stories. The series she published with illustrator Nick Sharratt, including titles like Toddle Waddle and Hippo Has a Hat are big hits with 0-5s, as are stories like The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom.
Stories featuring a baby are good too. I Love My Baby Because… by Paullina Simons is lovely story that will make you smile, and its content will become all too familiar once your little person arrives.