Last month we were lucky enough to be invited back to our neonatal unit to be part of their ‘Books for Babies’ campaign; an initiative launched after discovering that only around one in 50 parents read to their babies on the unit. Every baby is now given a book when they are admitted in order to encourage their parents to read to them during their stay. In fact Henry was the poster boy for the launch and we were obviously very proud!
As a teacher I am very aware that reading to children from a young age is hugely beneficial and greatly improves attainment later on. For the premature baby it can be the only thing that brings a sense of normality to parents in the beginning; when Henry was in hospital, at first we were not even able to touch him so reading was the only thing we could do that was part of our original plan, it was also important to us that he start to recognise our voices, hoping ours would stand out as soothing amongst those performing endless medical procedures. I also hoped he would remember them from being in utero. I wanted him to hear us speaking as much as possible but as much as I tried, I struggled to just talk randomly, some people are good at this, I am not! I found there was not much to talk about when sitting beside his incubator as I spent all day at the hospital and felt I had very little to tell him except what I had for lunch! Reading books became a lovely part of our routine and Henry grew a bit of reputation for having a ‘mini library’ next to his incubator, with nurses often reporting that they had read some of his books on their night shifts!
Not only is reading beneficial for bringing a sense of normality to parents but the research carried out by our neonatal unit suggests that the more you talk to your premature baby the better their language and communication skills by 18 months. Now that’s definitely a good reason to start shopping for books!
Since the launch in October the campaign has proved pretty popular and has recently hit the local news, you can watch the footage below:
[Source: ITV Meridian News]
As mentioned in the video, I am currently writing a book for other parents of premature babies to tell them about their journey through hospital, this will be my next project now I have finished Henry’s book which you can read here . . .
If you would like to share your experiences of reading in the neonatal unit please leave a comment below.