Often times, parents of young babies wonder what to do with them on a daily basis. Is it hard to keep babies entertained? Not at all! In fact, experts say that the best ways caregivers can interact with their children are through talking, reading, and singing with them!
And there’s a place parents can take their little ones to do just that: the local library!
What are the benefits of taking your baby to the library?
1. Weekly storytimes
Many libraries have weekly storytimes for different age groups. During these events, parents and their children gather together while a librarian reads books, sings songs, and leads the group in movement activities. Even the youngest babies can enjoy listening to stories and songs, even if they can’t quite understand language just yet. Many of these infant and toddler storytimes also include a portion at the end where toys are laid out on the floor for children to play with. This is a great time for parents to get to know one another while their babies play in a safe environment!
2. Borrowing books
Borrowing books from a local library is a wonderful way to add to your baby’s book collection! Books can be pricey sometimes (especially board books!), so checking books out from a library can be cost-effective for families. Borrowing books from the library also gives parents a tool to teach their little ones to care for things that don’t belong to them. Caring for library books can enforce concepts of sharing, being gentle, taking turns, and being responsible. If you have a very young baby that likes to chew on books or tear pages, be sure to keep library books out of his reach! Consider installing a special bookshelf on the wall, or keeping library books in a separate room where your baby doesn’t play on a regular basis. Older babies and toddlers can be taught how to be gentle when reading library books and to keep them clean and safe. Older toddlers will learn to enjoy returning books to the library and picking out new ones!
3. Access to computers and toys
Public libraries often have computers or tablets available for children to use. These devices have games and activities geared specifically toward young children. If you don’t own a computer at home, using one at the library can be a great way to expose your little one to this technology! Many libraries also have a special area just for children, with toys and games available for free play. From train tables to building blocks, farm animals to sensory toys, libraries can be a fun place to explore new toys!
One thing many babies miss out on is socialization. Unless you have other children at home or your baby goes to daycare or regular play dates, there isn’t a lot of socialization happening. Interacting with other babies and caregivers is important for little ones to develop social skills. Socialization isn’t just important for little ones - it’s important for adults too! Spending time at the library can give adults some much-needed interaction!
5. Building a routine
Attending weekly storytimes or visiting the library on a regular basis can help your little one establish a sense of time and routine. Babies and toddlers thrive on routine as it helps them make sense of the world. If they know to expect to go to the library every Tuesday, for example, it will help create a sense of excitement and anticipation every week. If you have a visible family calendar, add library outings to it!
Is reading really important for young babies who can’t understand a storyline?
Yes! Reading to your baby enriches their development in a number of ways. When you read a book to your baby, she hears the many sounds and rhythms of language. She can hear your change in tone, pace, or volume during different parts of the story. These simple observations of speech patterns form the foundation for your baby’s language acquisition.
Your little one will enjoy the visual aspect of books as well. Choose books that have vivid colors, fun illustrations, and different textures. As your baby gets older, you can point to different parts of a picture as you read, so your baby learns to connect the words with the actions in the pictures.
Reading is beneficial to your baby’s cognitive development. Through children’s books, your little one will be exposed to simplified versions of counting, letters, colors, shapes, social skills, and more! Even the youngest babies can appreciate looking at picture books.
If you don’t yet visit your local library, look up your library’s hours and plan an outing for you and your little one!
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.