Research everywhere tells us we should read to our babies from the start. As a bookworm mama to a bookworm baby, I wholeheartedly agree. However, I think saying you should read to your baby from day one is a bit misleading.
Before I go on, I’d like to add a side note. For the sake of this post, I am not talking about reading to your belly (though it is great for teaching voice recognition). I’m writing in reference to the research behind early literacy and childhood development.
I don’t know about you, but during my first few days of motherhood, I wasn’t even human. For four days, I was basically bed ridden in the hospital running off of barely there fumes and I didn’t even remember who I was half the time.
After coming home and finally getting to sleep in a real bed for a few hours, I felt a bit more human but I certainly wasn’t prepared for the next few weeks ahead. Once again, I became that barely functioning basketcase struggling to stay sane while taking care of this new human being.
It took around a month for my daughter and I to sync our routines and for me to finally function like a regular human again. Despite the newfound rediscovery of myself, I felt like a failure because we were already almost a month and a half into our journey and I hadn’t read any books to her yet.
I read loads of early literacy research while pregnant and I had a plan to start reading to my daughter right away, but it just didn’t happen. I know I was being that frantic ridiculous first time mom, but with all of the post-pregnancy hormones, the slightest disappointment was blown so far out of proportion into something completely irrational.
I think we spend way too much time worrying about getting everything right, and we don’t realize that we try to follow advice and research way too literally. I’m pretty sure there is a small patch of grey hairs on my head that I can credit to the constant stress of trying to get everything “right.”
For weeks, the bookworm inside of me was screaming for me to start reading to my daughter, but the rest of me screamed back that I was just too tired and stressed out. As hard as it was, I eventually told myself that it was completely pointless to worry about these things and not long after, I started to feel 8 million times better about myself.
I still remember the first time I ever read to my little girl. My head was clear of stress and worry and as I heard the sound of the freshly cracked book, all was right in the world again. I remember my daughters beautiful smile as I read to her all about Cinderella and Mulan.
Reading to our little ones as early as possible helps not only foster an early love of reading, but it strengthens the beautiful bond between mother and baby.
With that said, it’s equally as important to maintain your personal health. If you’re not happy or you’re stressed out about things, that can hinder you from fully enjoying the experience. Honestly, waiting that time to read to my daughter was probably the best decision I could’ve made as a parent.
So, my message for you: Don’t rush to read to your little one. Wait until you feel like you’re ready. I waited a month and a half until I read to my little girl and at one year old, she is the biggest bookworm I know (behind me, of course).