Stories are pretty magical. And nothing is ever as magical as the bedtime story.
You probably fondly remember the ritual of a bedtime story from your own childhood. It’s remarkable how deep and far back those memories go.
Tucked up in bed in cozy pyjamas hugging your favourite soft toy, while the calming tones of your parent's voice washed away the day and soothed you off to sleep.
Reading a story to your child is a fantastic way to create a relaxing bedtime ritual, but there are many more benefits that can last a lifetime.
Those benefits are...
Reading To Your Baby
It’s never too early to start reading to your baby. After all, they can hear the sound of your voice (albeit muffled!) while still in the womb. While newborns may not understand the meaning of the words or pictures, they can still comprehend emotion and tone, and start to pick up on different sounds surprisingly early.
From four to six months old, your baby may start to become more interested in the books themselves especially if they are able to sit and hold their head up. Don’t be worried if they start trying to chew them. If you have books made of cardboard, vinyl or cloth, they will withstand the infant love-fest!
From six to twelve months, babies can understand images more clearly, and may even show a preference for pictures or books.
After around twelve months, they will be helping you turn pages, point to objects, and mimic some of the sounds you make.
Setting Your Child Up For Success
Research shows that children who are regularly read to know more words by the time they are two than those who haven’t been read to.
Children pick up language, have broader vocabularies, and even learn critical thinking and cognitive skills from a young age. They are more likely to find it easier to learn to talk, how to read, and how to write, giving them a head start by the time they start school.
Nurture Imagination And Inquisitiveness
Stories can transport you and your child to faraway places – both real and imaginary. Creativity and imagination are essential skills to nurture, as well as inquisitiveness. Your child will begin to question the events in the stories that unfold.
It is great to encourage a deeper thinking about each story and to answer the questions that your little one has. You may even choose to have a debrief chat after you have finished reading.
Sharing a book about a particular event or life experience (starting school, new baby or loss of a pet ) can really help your little one understand and process what's going on . Visit your local Library to find the right age appropriate books for your child.
Lower Stress Levels
Just like adults, children can get stressed out. Creating a soothing bedtime ritual, including a story, helps them feel safe and calm. It can lower their cortisol levels and get them into a relaxed, sleepy state. This of course, makes it easier for them to be able to fall sleep.
You will likely find that this time with your child helps you feel calmer and more relaxed too!
Build Positive Mental Health
Studies have shown that children who enjoy reading are three times more likely to experience good mental health than those who don't. And further research revealed that 90 per cent of children are most happy when reading or writing – not when watching TV or playing computer games.
In this busy modern world, technology rules much of our days. The simple act of reading a book allows everyone to become more connected and embrace a much needed break.
Connect And Bond With Your Child
When children get older, it can be tempting to pass them a tablet or iPad and let them entertain themselves. While this can be helpful at times, nothing replaces quality bonding time with your kids. Taking even ten minutes at the end of a busy day to sit down, cuddle, and read a short book together is priceless.
These are the memories you will both treasure once your kids are all grown up.
Wondering how you can work the bedtime story into your routine? Simply fit it in where it seems natural. It is a great way to encourage your child into bed and is a great trigger to signal the start of preparing for sleep.
If you have any questions about how you can maximise this time with your child, then check out our range of sleep packages by clicking here.