by Mollee Bauer
New research shows that the longer a baby stays in the mother's womb, the smarter the child will turn out.
So how does reading to your baby-to-be fit in and increase his or her early reading skills?
There's been a bunch of research that supports the benefits of reading to your belly. This includes a recent study using New York City public school children, that found that full-term infants have improved brain development and better academic test scores.
A baby is full-term between 37 and 41 weeks. Anything before that time is considered premature.
Dr. Judy Aschner, a pediatrics professor and neonatology director at Vanderbilt University Medical Center told the Associated Press, "I don't want to panic moms whose babies come at 37 weeks, but those elective early deliveries really need to stop."
✓ Did you know that your baby-to-be recognizes your voice at birth and can tell your voice apart from others?
✓ Did you know that your baby learns his or her first language by hearing it in the womb? When your baby is born, the cry contains the influence of their native tongue. They can even cry with an accent!
Newborns can also tell the difference between their language and ones they aren't familiar with.
✓ Did you know that newborns demonstrate their preference for the songs or stories that you read to them in the womb? They actually remember the specific ones they heard in the third trimester up to four weeks after birth.
✓ Did you know that when your heartbeat and breathing slow down, your baby follows your example? Your wee one will react physiologically, endocrinological and neurologically. These types of responses have a positive effect on your baby's growth and development.
✓ Did you know that when you feel love for your baby-to-be, you release endorphins (you know, those "feel good" hormones) that are also released to your baby at the same time. Your wee one gets used to these hormones and copies your positive response. The result is a baby with a bigger sense of safety and well-being that does not have hindered physical, cognitive and neurological growth.
✓ Did you know that there's a direct connection between the amount you talk to your baby and their academic and social success? The more words your baby hears in his or her formative years, the more advanced the language and literacy will develop in the future.
✓ Did you know that creating a reading routine establishes a devoted time to you and your child? That doing this also helps parents-to-be and their siblings to develop a relationship with the baby-to-be, paving the way for a smoother transition into parent and sibling-hood?
This is also an opportunity for other like grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends to get involved in the prenatal bonding process, too. The end result is that it appears that it's never too early to start reading and that it helps make reading and language a priority.
We ask, why wouldn't an expectant family read to baby-to-be? Sure seems like it's a good idea! What do you think?
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com