I often hear from clients that reading a book to their baby or toddler as part of the bedtime routine is a struggle. Some parents feel it’s an unspoken rule that they must read their baby a book at bedtime. Side note…I had to laugh when I selected this image…I think the title should be “Bedtime in a Dream World.” I know that bedtime might look this snuggly 2% of the time, but it’s by no means the norm.
Bedtime reading, in the traditional sense of a child sitting in your lap while you read a book, is not age appropriate for young children. As a former kindergarten teacher, I am going to encourage you to read to your child as much as possible ALL the way through school. However, if books are a struggle, there are many great alternatives that all foster the development of language, attachment, and future academic achievement. I have listed a number of them below.
Sit on the floor while you read and allow your baby or toddler to crawl around the room during the bedtime routine instead of trying to hold them in your lap.
Replace a book with the lost art of story telling. Use different voices. Feel free to tell the same story each night. Children LOVE when parents tell stories. (I do not have the gift of storytelling myself, so I am always jealous of those who do.)
Tell nursery rhymes or finger plays instead of reading. The rhyming and and alliteration help young children learn about sounds and language, which later translates into reading. The more children are exposed to rhyming and alliteration the easier it is for them to recognize sounds and sound out words when they enter school.
Sing a favorite song. When my oldest was a tiny infant, I learned a song at a mommy group that I began singing:
Good night sweet Madeleine it’s time to rest… lay your sweet head upon our Savior’s chest. I love you so, but Jesus loves you best. Good night sweet Madeleine, good night.
Here is another sweet simple song. I require simple, especially in the lyric department.
Good night to you.
Good night to me.
Now close your eyes and go to sleep.
Good night. Sleep tight. Sweet dreams tonight.
Good night. I love you.
Don’t let bedtime become stressful trying to get your child to sit for a book. Change it up, pick one of these options to see if your child enjoys changing up the routine.