The Benefits of Reading to Your Newborn

A big question people often have is, do babies understand what we are saying? The answer to this, is yes!

Reading to babies contributes to their development of their growing brains. It helps a baby with their language development as they begin to learn speech patterns along with taking in information.

Reading books to babies and kids help them to expand the variety of words that they use. Many books contain words we may not used in our everyday life. Books contain different names for different things and may use more adjectives, this helps your baby hear lots of different words. Hearing words helps a baby build a network of words in their brain. The more stories you read aloud to your baby, the more words and sounds they will hear. All this adds up to their ability to talk and communicate later. A study conducted in 2019 estimated that children who are regularly read to in their first five years of life are exposed to 1.4 million more words that children who were not read to in these first years.

Babies can gain a greater emotional understanding from by the expressions and sounds you make while reading. This helps with their brain development. Spoken words convey that words have different meanings things while different sounds mean certain things.

Making reading a part of your new-born’s routine helps them to see that reading is fun and sets them up for life. It will teach them that reading is not a chore for school or work, but reading can be fun too.

What is the best way to read to your baby?

Try to read everyday and at similar times so it becomes a comforting routine for your baby. Ensure you point out and names pictures such as animals for example. This helps your child to learn what these pictures are. You can later ask them to point to the “duck” for example. This creates a learning process and understanding of what different things are for your baby. Read the book with expression, giving each character a different voice, making animal sounds, and introducing your baby to new sounds.

How to pick the best books for your baby?

During the first few months of a baby’s life, they just love the sound of your voice, so anything you read is helpful. As they get a little older, books that they can touch is ideal. Vinyl or cloth books are easy for a baby to touch and feel. As they become more interested, books with bright colours, and shapes are great to read. Once your child starts talking, pick books with simple words or phrases they can learn.

The best way to ensure you child becomes a reader is to have books around the house for them to read as they get older.

 

 

Proper Development of Spine For Your Baby

Introduction

“Stand up straight!” We have all heard this at some point in our lives. And while the intention of encouraging proper spinal alignment is good, our spines are actually not straight. A properly developed spine is actually shaped like an elongated S. The first year of life and the movement experiences you provide your baby are key to the proper spinal development.

The curvature of spine

 

The Primary Curve: C shape
The primary C-shape curve

When your baby is firstborn, his/her spine will have a convex curve in the shape of the letter C. Your newborn does not yet have the muscle strength to hold up his head. They need to be carried carefully with his head and neck fully supported.

You will also notice your newborn will tuck his/her legs into a frog-leg position, thighs pulling up toward the chest, while laying on her belly or when you pick her up. This fetal tuck allows your baby to maintain her primary curve alignment, reducing the pressure on the spine and hips.

 

The Secondary Curve: Cervical
The secondary cervical curve

Over the first few months after birth, your baby will begin to interact with the world around him. He will lift his head to look around, engage with you, or turn to the direction of noise or light that catches his attention. As your baby moves through these experiences, he is developing the muscles in his neck and the secondary curve of his upper spine, the cervical curve.

The best way to encourage your baby’s cervical curve is to give her plenty of tummy time. Arching her neck against the pull of gravity will strengthen her neck muscles. But don’t forget your baby is a social creature who does not enjoy being without you for a long period of time. While a toy, mirror, or other objects may provide a few minutes of entertainment in tummy time, after a while your baby will grow tired of being without you. They likely show their dissatisfaction by fussing and crying, so get down on the floor on your tummy facing them! You can also lay on your side beside them, so they know you are close by and ready to engage them.

Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of tummy time daily. This can happen in 5-10 minute intervals throughout the day.

 

The Final Curve: Lumbar
The final lumbar curve

The final spinal curve develops in the lower back and is called the Lumbar Curve. The lumbar curve starts to develop when your baby begins to creep and crawl. In order for the lumbar curve and the surrounding muscles to develop properly, give your baby as many opportunities as possible to creep, crawl, and play on his tummy. The lumbar curve provides for proper postural alignment. Your baby will complete his spinal development between 12-18 months, once he has mastered walking upright.

 

Slow and steady…

Avoid the urge to rush your baby through any stage of her spinal development. Placing her in a position she cannot support on her own can delay your baby’s development or create long term spinal issues.

Spending too much time in a container on his back can cause issues with your baby’s spinal development. Swings, bouncy seats, and even strollers keep baby in the C curve position, so the cervical and lumbar spine do not have the opportunity to develop. Without tummy time, he cannot exercise his muscles to provide him with the strength he needs to move through important milestones, such as rolling, sitting and crawling. These containers can provide your baby with a safe place to lay while you tend to other day-to-day tasks. However, avoid overusing them and try to balance this time spent in them with the same amount of tummy time.

When your baby is placed in a sitting position before she is ready, this puts the entire weight of her head on her spine. When the spine and surrounding muscles have not developed the strength to properly support this weight, it can lead to the risk of spinal degeneration or issues with the surrounding organs. Toys such as exersaucers, jumpers, or baby seats should not be used until your baby can sit on her own. Even once your baby is able to self-support a seated position, these toys should be used in moderation, as she does not have the freedom to move. Your baby still has many other muscles and movements she needs to develop on her tummy to help promote crawling and eventually walking.

 

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