Reading is a precious and memorable way parents spend time with their newborns. Although many other expectations of what life will be like with a newborn get thrown out the window when the baby is born early, reading remains an important way parents can comfort and care for their children, even in the NICU. Nurses often say that when parents talk, sing, and read to a preemie there is a noticeable improvement in the baby’s condition. Because a newborn can recognize voices from a very young age, hearing the mother and father promotes bonding, even if the baby is to fragile to hold. So if you have a preemie, try to make a habit of reading aloud every day. If you know a family with a baby in the NICU, share books with them. You can choose favorite storybooks to give as gifts, or commit to making regular trips to the library to keep them stocked with fresh material. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  1. Start reading your favorite series to your baby. Series are great because if you have a set of books you like, they can provide consistency during a time that can be extremely unpredictable. Of course, you don’t have to read only children’s books. Choose something you like!
  1. Poetry. It can be Maya Angelou, Shel Silverstein, or Shakespeare. Of course it doesn’t matter if they’re not children’s verses. The point is for the baby to hear a familiar voice, and poetry is meant to be read aloud.
  1. Children’s storybook collections. There is a Winnie the Pooh collection that is 344 pages long sitting on our family bookshelf. Many classic children’s stories have been collected in single volumes and make great reading material in the NICU.
  1.  Books about prematurity written for siblings. If you have older children, there are several books that have been written to try to help them understand the world of the NICU and what it means to have a baby brother or sister there. A Very Special Preemie Book, by Clorinda Walters, is one.

We’d love to hear your suggestions - do you have a favorite book that you read to your newborn? Let us know in the comments!