Never too early to read to your baby!

Department of Health

The Special Care Nursery at the Royal Darwin Hospital is promoting the importance of reading to babies by taking part in a read-a-thon this September.

Nurse Manager at RDH’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Deborah Ribbon, said staff and parents would be taking part in the Little Readers Read-a-thon, run by Charity Life’s little Treasures, which is dedicated to providing support and information for families of premature or sick babies.

Ms Ribbon said RDH NICU were one of the first units to register for the read-a-thon and won a collection of 30 books to give to parents.

“Reading aloud is an opportunity for you to bond with your baby. Babies learn to talk through hearing sounds, words and stories,” Ms Ribbon said.

“Babies recognises their parents’ voices and would rather listen to their voice than any other sound.

“Hearing their parents’ voices brings babies a sense of calm, comfort and familiarity.

“Babies enjoy hearing their parent’s voice, but what’s more important is that it’s an activity that parents can do every day for their baby during a time where many feel helpless in an intense and stressful environment.

“Reading to their baby is a way for parents to spend special time together during your stay in the NICU, but also at home. Being in the NICU can be an overwhelming time for parents with unfamiliar sights and sounds, but reading aloud to your baby is something that you can do every day to help your baby well into their future.

“Reading to babies every day supports development not only in the NICU, but also going into early infancy and childhood.

“Reading is also linked to improved language and writing abilities at school age, so it’s never too early to start and why we’re encouraging our staff and parents to get on board with our Little Readers Read-a-thon.”

“When a baby is awake and making eye contact is the best time to read to them. Sometimes listening to reading can be tiring for baby and parents may notice them trying to tell by looking away, becoming restless or becoming sleepy. That’s ok, save the rest of the story for later.”

From birth for the first month parents should:

  • Sing, talk and smile at your baby
  • Respond to your baby’s ‘talk’ every time they make a sound

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