With a new national lockdown and the days becoming shorter and greyer, you might be finding it harder to find moments of joy. Here are some tips for using stories to brighten the days of you and your baby.
Get off the sofa
We might be stuck at home, but try and see it with fresh eyes. Do you only ever read on the sofa or in bed? Think about different places you could introduce books to or more unusual spots to share a story.
Try reading to your baby while they’re in the bath or eating (make sure they are safe in the water/high chair while you glance at the text). Could you sit under the kitchen table with a book and see how your baby reacts?
As the weather gets colder, it can be fun to make a cosy reading den. Drape a sheet over some chairs and use cushions and blankets you can snuggle into with your child and a pile of books. You could add fairy lights or a small lamp for atmospheric lighting. Be sure not to leave very young babies alone in the den as they might wriggle underneath the fabric. Older siblings might be tempted to join in the fun, too, so you can have snuggly family story time.
The end of the year is the perfect time for nostalgia. Dig out some of your childhood favourites and share these with your child. Remember, even if you think some of those stories are ‘too old’ for your baby, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read them.
Spending time with you and listening to your voice is valuable on your own. And it can make the experience even more enjoyable for you if you are more engaged with the story.
Introduce these books now, so hopefully your baby can grow up loving the same characters that you did.
There aren’t many places to go under lockdown but at least there is currently no limit on the time we can spend outside. Take your baby for a walk in the buggy or sling and take a book, too.
Wrap up warm and choose a park bench or tell stories from memory as you walk.
How about sharing some poetry with your baby? This is a good choice as they can be short, so you aren’t sitting in the cold for too long! Again, don’t worry if your favourite poems are for adults, just go for it. Nursery rhymes are poems too, so you don’t think you don’t know any.
Get the family involved
If you are unable to meet up with family members at the moment, you might be using video calls to catch up. Sometimes this is great, but sometimes they can be awkward, especially as the youngest person on the call can’t join in with the conversation.
Sharing a story can give everyone something to do. This can be particularly lovely for grandparents, so they can build a relationship from a distance.
Your baby can see the pages on the screen, or you could get two copies of the same book so they can look at the pictures close up while listening to the words read by another loved one.
I’m sure you have a list of things you’d be doing with your baby if things were a bit more normal. Through the magic of books, you can still do them! Sort of.
If there are experiences that you feel you are missing out on, read about them with your baby. Going swimming, going to the zoo, a 1st birthday party – you can look at pictures and talk about them even if you can’t experience them right now.
If you live in or near Catford in South London, you can meet other parents while sharing stories with your baby for free at Baby Book Group at Corbett Library.
We have online classes, too, which include a brand new book!