As a new mum, I’ve recently discovered just how amazing a bedtime routine can be! They provide children with a sense of structure and control, help develop good sleeping habits, and when a story is added into the mix, bedtime routines offer an extra opportunity for bonding and sharing with your child.
Research has shown there are benefits of bedtime stories from birth onwards, so below are five of our favourite reasons to read a bedtime story tonight!
Five Reasons to Read a Bedtime Story Tonight
Reading together is a great way to nurture the bond between parent and child
Snuggling up with your child to read a bedtime story is not only a joy for you, it also has physical and emotional benefits for your child. Cuddling releases oxytocin (commonly thought of as ‘the happy hormone’), which helps your child feel content and safe in your arms. Physical touch also has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in children, so use tonight’s bedtime story as an opportunity to not only build your child’s literacy skills, but the emotional bond between you.
Bedtime stories help expand your child’s vocabulary
Adults typically use limited vocabulary sets day-to-day, (determined by things like culture, geography, career, etc.,) so reading different type and genres of books can expose your child to words and phrases they may not have heard before.
Bedtime can be a great opportunity to talk about issues
Around bedtime, children are usually more relaxed, and less distracted. It can be a great time to talk to your child, and you can use books to support a conversation about different issues – whether things going on in your child’s world (e.g., safety, hygiene, being kind, sharing, starting school), or things happening in the world around them. Introducing topics via characters in a story can help scaffold a conversation with your child as you talk about what the character is doing, and what they might have done in that situation.
Bedtime stories are the perfect way for parents to unwind and slow down after a busy day
Kids nowadays are constantly on the go – zooming from one activity to the next, with seemingly endless energy. As a parent, I’m usually just trying to keep up while also attempting to juggle my own priorities and needs. Bedtime routines can often feel just as chaotic, jumping from dinner to bath to bed in record speed.
Creating a protected time for a story is the perfect way to add a bit of calm into both of your days. It’s an opportunity to really slow down, remove any distractions or technology, and to be present with your child.
Children are never “too young” or “too old” for a bedtime story
While a newborn isn’t likely to pay much attention to a bedtime story, they love hearing your voice. It’s soothing and when paired with dim lights and cuddles, can be a great sleep association. A toddler will usually be more interested in turning the pages than listening to a whole story – and that’s ok because they’re learning how books work. A three-year-old may want the same story again and again – this familiarity actually helps with speech development. And even once a child is reading independently, reading aloud together at bedtime helps to develop their imagination and creativity.
Want to up your bedtime story game? Here’s a few tips for reading aloud:
- Don’t worry about sounding silly! Get into character, put on the funny voices, and make each bedtime a memorable one.
- Concentrate on sharing the experience, rather than ‘testing’ your child. Bedtime is a time to relax and unwind, so keep questions open and reflective e.g., “What would you do?”
- If you get nervous reading aloud, try to practice reading the book ahead of time – that way you can become more familiar with the story, characters, and text.
I hope you’ve found this useful, and you have a new-found appreciation for the bedtime story tonight! If you are looking for book recommendations or other bookish content, head over to my Instagram account @bookieboobox or check out www.bookieboo.com.au if you’re on the hunt for some great new books.