Why & How to Read to the Bump

Why Read to Your Baby in Utero?

  • Your baby will become familiar with your unique voice.
  • Research shows that babies recognize the voice of their mother at birth and can distinguish their mother’s voice from that of a stranger.
  • A familiar, rhythmic story will soothe your newborn.
  • Newborn babies show a clear preference for the rhythm and melody of a song or poem that they heard regularly from the womb. Babies actually remember a rhythmic poem or story that they heard during the last trimester for up to four weeks after birth, and they’re measurably calmed by that familiar story.
  • Taking time to relax is part of a healthy, happy pregnancy.
  • When an expectant mother just sits in a comfortable place and breathes, she’s doing the most important thing for herself and her baby. Setting aside time every day to relax and read to her baby in the womb will help to slow down her heartbeat and breathing, and her baby will respond physiologically, endocrinologically, and neurologically. These responses have a positive effect on the baby’s growth and development.
  • Bonding with babies prenatally benefits their future health and emotional well-being.
  • When a pregnant woman feels love for her expected child in the womb, she releases endorphins (“feel good” hormones), which trigger the same hormone release in the baby. The baby becomes accustomed to these hormones and mimics the mother’s positive physiological response. The result is a baby who has unhindered physical, cognitive, and neurological growth, and who is born with a general sense of safety and well-being.
  • Reading to your child before and after birth strengthens family and social bonds.
  • Establishing a routine around reading creates a sacred, centered, regular time devoted to you and your child.
  • This helps expectant parents and siblings develop a relationship with the baby before birth, easing the transition into parenthood and siblinghood. It’s also an opportunity for others (grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends) to get involved in the prenatal bonding process. In the bigger picture, family reading helps establish a culture in which literacy and language are a priority.

How to Use Belly Books

  • Sit back and rest the book comfortably on your belly, and read to your “baby bump” slowly and clearly
  • Relax and enjoy the language and imagery—this will enhance your emotional connection with your baby each time you read, and your unique voice will become more and more familiar.
  • Daddy, big brother or sister, Grandma and other family members can snuggle close to read to the awaited baby, too.
  • You might even want to sing the verses like a lullaby! Studies show that newborns recognize a song repeatedly heard from inside the womb during the last trimester, and are calmed by the melody sung in a familiar voice.
  • When your newborn arrives, the colorfully illustrated book will gently encircle him or her as you read aloud again. Watch as your baby settles in to hear the story, which he or she will recognize and respond to.
  • This cozy, reading-centered family time that was begun before your baby was born will continue for years to come!