Bookbug Detective: Should dads read to their unborn babies?

Hugh Grant reading to Julia Robertson in Notting Hill
Category: Bookbug

The Bookbug Detective is here to help you with any questions you have about books, reading, songs and rhymes for your little one. Thank you to everyone who has sent in their questions so far. The Detective has selected a question to answer below. If you'd like some book recommendations or advice, send the Bookbug Detective an email or post your question in the comments below.

 

My partner is pregnant with our first child and we’ve been advised by the midwife to read to the bump. I’ve tried it but to be honest I feel really daft! Do we really need to be doing this, and what suggestions do you have on what we should read?

Thank you so much for your enquiry. I completely understand how silly it makes you feel – you’re not alone there! But please do persevere with it because your midwife’s absolutely right – reading, talking and singing (if you’re brave enough) have been proven to have a really positive effect on things like your child’s language and brain development and is also a great way to bond with your baby pre-birth.

You could be reading anything from Shakespeare to Thomas the Tank Engine or the newspaper. It’s the sound and rhythm of your voice that matters.

As to what you read, it honestly doesn’t matter! You could be reading anything from Shakespeare to Thomas the Tank Engine or the newspaper. It’s the sound and rhythm of your voice that matters. Reading to the bump is particularly important for dads-to-be as studies have proven that a child will recognise voices when they’re born.

Here are a few tips to help you (and hopefully make you feel a little bit less silly):

• Pick something you want to read – your baby won’t be able to understand the words so you might as well be enjoying it too.

• Try choosing books with rhyme (e.g. poetry or children’s nursery rhymes or picture books with rhyme in them) – these can be easier to read aloud. Also, rhythm and rhyme are the building blocks of language and will help your child become a better reader when they’re older.

• It doesn’t have to take loads of time – you could dedicate 10/15 minutes each day to sitting down and reading to the bump. This is also a nice opportunity to relax and forget about other stresses.

Pick something you want to read – your baby won’t be able to understand the words so you might as well be enjoying it too

• You don’t have to read, you could just talk to the bump. Talk to them about absolutely anything! Or why not make up a story?

• If you’re stuck for book suggestions, have a look at the book lists on our website

• Have fun! – you will feel silly to begin with but your baby won’t judge you! With time, you’ll become really comfortable with it.

I hope this is helpful. Good luck with the reading and keep it up when baby’s born! It’s never too early to start sharing books with your baby.

Ready, Steady, Baby suggest you start talking and reading to your bump from week 21 but there’s no harm in starting earlier. Find out more about your baby’s development on their website.