Why Chatter Beats Bedtime Stories, Hands Down
You know how, as a parent, one of the things you're “supposed” to do is be a stickler about bedtime stories for your kids?
Because reading to your kids at bedtime lays the foundation for a lifetime of learning, it's a great bonding experience, all the best parents do it, etc., etc. But sometimes you a) feel too exhausted to read to your baby at the end of the day and 2) feel a bit silly reading to a baby who doesn't understand you.
But as it turns out, reading at bedtime isn't the only effective way to boost your baby's brain development anyways.
A new study out of Ireland found that simply chatting to your baby throughout the day was a whopping four times better at boosting their communication skills than reading them a traditional story or showing them a picture book.
I tell you what: I'm a stickler for reading in my house, but it's always been my goal to make it a natural and fun activity. I grew up gorging myself on books, and in a large way, I think it's responsible for the life I now lead — a writer and an author — and I'm thankful every day that my parents gave me the freedom to read my childhood away. My husband, on the other hand, loathes reading and considers reading for fun something as familiar as getting a root canal for kicks. So I've never known which camp our children would fall into, but we instituted the “read at night” policy pretty early on.
But with more kids and less time, I admit that bedtimes often get rushed in our house, and on those nights when I'm just too tired to read Goodnight Moon one more time, it will come in handy to remember this study.
Instead of forcing my eyelids to stay open, I can take comfort that the 10,949 times I kissed my 6-month-old's cheeks and asked her, “Whose da cutest wittle baby in da whole wide world?” just to see her smile light up her face was actually doing more than making her giggle — it was boosting those brain pathways for her communication skills for later in life.
Talking to the baby, or having the benefit of having older kids who love nothing more than sitting down with their baby sister and telling her all about their day at school, is good all around. And I love when science backs up what seems to come naturally in family life — loving on a little baby and integrating language as a normal part of the day just makes sense.
So, put this practice into action in your home. Shut off that TV (because it actually decreases the quality of language development in kids) and get in on the mindless chatter so you can go to bed guilt free tonight.
Do you read to your baby at bedtime?