During your second trimester, your baby starts to hear and recognise different sounds. The main sound your baby hears is your heartbeat, but as your pregnancy progresses your baby will start to recognise sounds outside the womb.
Around 24 to 30 weeks you can start to communicate with your baby – through talking to them, playing them your favourite song – you can even read them a book or story! That’s right, long before your baby is born you can start reading to them and continue reading to them once they’re born.
Throughout your pregnancy, your baby’s brain is constantly growing and developing, storing everything they hear for use when they enter the world, therefore eating healthily during your pregnancy is super important.
Research has shown that reading to your unborn baby helps to stimulate brain activity and can increase early literary skills and language development.
Why should I read to my unborn baby?
Reading to your unborn baby is a great way to start bonding with your little bundle of joy. Taking the time out of your day to read a story or communicate to your baby won’t just help you relax; it’ll also help your baby to understand your voice.
You may find that as you continue to read to your baby that they will respond to you! And, if you continue reading the same story when they are born, they may recognise your voice which will help them feel safe and secure with you.
Certain studies have also found that reading to your baby in the womb also helps them to pick up new words and understand language pretty early on.
When should I start reading to my unborn baby?
You can read to your unborn baby at any stage in your pregnancy, but we recommend waiting until you’re at least 24 weeks as this is time your baby will start understanding voices and communication. At 24 weeks your baby’s brain development is progressing day by day and you can continue to aid their development by reading to them and playing classical music to them.
What should I read to my unborn baby?
This is completely up to you! You could read out the newspaper, Facebook updates or a child friendly book. Reading to your unborn baby at this stage is really about allowing them to familiarise themselves with your voice. In a similar way to how we hear the muffling sound of next door’s booming stereo – babies hear our voices in a similar way.
Although they can’t distinguish one word from another, they respond to rhythm and repetition. No matter what you read to them, hearing your voice and establishing a connection before they are born is important.
What are the benefits of reading to my unborn baby?
Whilst reading to your unborn baby may feel a little silly, it actually has tonnes of benefits including:
Your baby will start bonding with you right from the time they’re in the womb, however you can strengthen your bond by interacting with your baby. When you read or sing to your little one, your baby is constantly becoming aware of you and your voice, making it easier to recognise when they enter the world. Being continually aware of your voice helps your baby develop trust, which is why you will find your baby will stop crying when they hear your voice.
Strengthens your baby’s brain development
Reading aloud to your unborn baby helps to expand their brain development. Listening to stories helps your baby strengthen their brain activity and you may find that when you read the same stories to them as a newborn they respond. Reading to your baby may also help to improve their concentration as they get older.
Taking ten minutes out of your day to read to your baby is a great way to relax and de-stress. A stress-free pregnancy is essential for a healthy baby so next time you’re feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders, try reading aloud to your baby.
Builds good habits
Reading to your unborn baby is incredibly important. Most people wait until their baby is born to start reading to their child, but studies show that the earlier you expose your baby to language, the more they will enjoy it and the better their language skills will be. By reading to your baby in the womb, you’re building good habits that will last a lifetime.
Improves their listening skills
Studies have shown that babies become receptive to sounds during your second trimester, and this is where auditory development begins. By reading to your unborn baby, they become familiar with sound, and your voice will stimulate the baby. This stimulation helps your baby develop listening and concentration skills earlier in life.
Better Auditory Function
Did you know that the sounds your unborn baby hears leads to the movement of neurons and the formation of new connections in the ear? According to one study, exposing your child to various sounds (including reading aloud and music) from 25 weeks’ gestation is incredibly important as it helps to build their auditory system.
To put it simply, the more your baby is exposed to sounds like speech, music, and words, the better the hair of the cells of the inner ear can respond and attune to them. Better auditory functions create better intellectual functions later in life.
While you might feel silly reading or singing to your unborn baby, just know that you are creating a special bond between you and your little one.
By exposing your baby to your voice in the womb, your baby will respond to you much better after birth as they will trust you and feel safe around you.
It doesn’t matter what you choose to read to your baby, just as long as you are taking the time out of your day to relax and do so you will help your baby’s development in life.