When new babies arrive, friends and relatives generously lavish you with new baby outfits, cute little booties and lots of lovely toys. Not many buy books for the new baby. Not because they are opposed to books for babies, it just generally isn't in people's consciousness. But giving a book to a newborn is a far greater gift than anything else you can give - the impact on a baby's development runs very deep and the inclusive nature of books reaps benefits for the whole family. So why are they so important?
We asked five members of the Born team to give their thoughts...
|Barefoot Books: Storytime|
1. Bonding (Eva, Born Co-Founder)
From day one, reading with your baby can make a difference. All your baby wants to do is listen to the sound of your voice and feel you close. Reading a book in a gentle tone with lots of cuddles will mean that very quickly, your baby will match reading with pleasure and comfort. Talking to babies helps them learn to listen, and gives them the chance to respond and be listened to, helping a strong bond to develop.
|Xavier Deneux: Opposites|
2. Contrast (Becky, Born MD)
Newborns see things best from about a foot away — or the distance from your face to your baby's while you're holding them. So try to select books with high-contrast images. Black-and-white illustrations and patterns (stripes, polka dots, checkers) are easier for newborns to focus on and can help the muscles in their eyes to become stronger. Remember - your newborn will not have any sort of attention span, so don't expect them to be alert for every page!
|Hape: Wooden Baby Books|
The soft cloth books and squidgy bath books are perfect for babies who are at the stage of reaching, holding and grabbing. They love to put the books in their mouths, touch them and explore the textures. Turn the pages and point to the pictures. Babies love to observe and copy and this is an important stage of your baby becoming aware of books and basic reading concepts such as pages and pictures. Board books are great as your baby gets older, as they are easy to hold and your baby can begin to turn the pages themselves. The corners will inevitably get chewed though - my daughter found them to be perfect soothers when her teeth were coming through!
|Christopher Franceschelli: Alphablock|
4. Learning is fun! (Katie, Customer Services)
Babies are born learners and there are some brilliant books for babies that start to introduce concepts of basic learning - numbers, letters, shapes and colours - in a fun way. Babies love the repetition of these books, especially if you read them in a sing-song voice! They will soon start to link expressive sounds and words to pictures as they begin to understand that each thing has a name and each name has a 'thing' associated with it!
|Jenny Overend: Hello Baby|
When my daughter was born, books were fundamental in ensuring that my son did not feel pushed out. They were especially useful when I was feeding her - my son snuggled up against me and we shared books together. This was special time for him, yet my daughter could still listen and be soothed by our warmth and the sounds of our voices. As she got older, they both shared books and storytime together, helping the bond between brother and sister to develop too. Books make a brilliant gift from a new baby to a sibling too, and there are some great books for children about the arrival of a new baby that help to smooth the way!
These are all reasons why books are important for babies but it is worth remembering that baby books are important for parents too. The whole experience of reading with your baby - the ritual of getting a book, finding a peaceful place to sit and getting comfortable, free from noise, screens and other distractions can be incredibly beneficial for both parent and child - the quiet time spent together encourages bonding, communication and relaxation and allows your mind to calm, away from thinking about washing nappies or the next feed!
|Clare Beaton: Bedtime Rhymes (also see illustration at top of page)|