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40% of parents start reading to their baby before they’re 3 months old

A baby who can open their eyes is a baby ready for a book, according to experts. 

40% of parents start reading to their baby before they’re 3 months old

My local library encourages parents to read 1,000 books to their children by kindergarten. It sounds like a lot, but my son is only two and I am pretty sure I've already read Brown Bear, Brown Bear at least 1,000 times this week. We've been reading together since he was born, and, according to a new report, we're part of a growing trend. More parents than ever before are following the American Academy of Pediatrics' suggestion to start reading to kids from birth.

The sixth annual Kids & Family Reading Report by Scholastic surveyed 2,718 American parents in 2016 and found more than three-quarters of parents with children under five started reading aloud before their child was a year old, and about 40 percent started before their baby was three months old (up from 30 percent in 2014). That's great news, according to experts.

I felt silly reading to my son when he hardly knew who I was (let alone what a brown bear was) but I'm so glad his dad and I just kept reading through the early awkwardness. Doctors say as soon as babies begin opening their eyes they're more than ready for books.


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, reading aloud to our little ones “stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime."

Sometimes it can feel like storytime itself lasts a lifetime. The Scholastic survey found two out of three parents with kids under five read more than one book each time they read aloud to their children. (I totally relate to this—as soon as my son learned the sign for “more" he would ask for another book as soon as the first ended, especially if we were reading at bedtime.)

The survey also noted that kids start choosing their own books at pretty early ages (this is why I had to hide Brown Bear, Brown Bear). Fifty-four percent of parents of kids two and under said their kids picked their own books, and and the majority of kids between three and five are choosing for themselves.

The Scholastic report follows research presented earlier this year that found reading books with mom during infancy is a good predictor of early-reading skills. The researchers monitored 250 mom and baby pairs for four years and found that kids who were read to as babies had better vocabularies later on, and that frequent, quality storytime sessions during toddlerhood are a good predictor of whether a child will be writing their name by age four.

Presenting that research at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting back in May, lead author Carolyn Cates drove home the benefits of reading to tiny babies: “What they're learning when you read with them as infants still has an effect four years later when they're about to begin elementary school."

With more parents than ever before reading to the youngest children, the next crop of elementary schoolers may be the brightest yet. It seems like a lot of kids will hear 1,000 books before kindergarten.

Here are some of our favorite titles for your little one's first library.

'Who Says Peep Peep Peep'

Who Says Peep Peep Peep

With a rhyming cadence and sweet illustrations, this board book is the perfect baby bedtime read.

$17

'Getting Ready'

Getting ready tactile book

Get ready for the day with this fun and interactive tactile book. Fuzzy, scratchy, and bumpy textures engage all your baby's senses and make story time even more exciting.

$15

'Sign About Going Out'

Sign About Going Out

Sign language is a fantastic way to develop early communication skills. This colorful board book introduces little ones to forty signs for everyday objects and activities outside the home (which will totally come in handy for both of you!)

$6

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

[This was originally published November, 2017. It has since been updated.]

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Life

My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

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