Baby Storytime: Focus on Newborns

For the fourth post in our baby storytime series, I’m sharing books and songs and rhymes perfect for newborns. This post is inspired by the influx of newborns in my life lately and I hope you’ll all allow me to selfishly welcome Sidney, Mason and soon Alexander to this great place we call Earth! With these new infants in mind as well as the constant supply I have the pleasure of seeing at work, I thought a post just for brand new babes was more than warranted.

If you’re fired up about baby storytime and want to read more, make sure to check out the rest of the posts in the series!

Books and Why

I may be a bit of a zealot but I truly believe that babies should be around books as soon as they are born. It’s for this reason that every person I know ever will always receive books when a new baby arrives. Apparently lots of other children’s library folks agree with me as demonstrated by the 100 odd comments to Rebecca’s query on the Storytime Underground Facebook Group about favourite books to give a newborn. Here are a couple of our favourites for babies birth to three months and what makes them perfect for itty bitties:

  • Books with large, bright faces! Some great examples include Ten Tiny Tickles and Counting Kisses by Karen Katz, 10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes by Mem Fox and the Baby Step Series by Carol McDougall. Newborns seek out and pay attention to faces because it is an important source of information for them and books with images of faces will capture their attention.
  • High contrast and black and white books like I Kissed the Baby! by Mary Murphy and any of the Black and White series by Tana Hoban are also fantastic for little babies. The contrast between bold colours or black and white in the  illustrations gives baby something to focus on which helps strengthen their eyesight.

                             baby play black and white i kissed the baby karen katz mem fox

One tip we like to share with caregivers with infants is from Library Bonanza’s Early Literacy Talking Points (seriously bookmark this page!) “For a baby’s short attention span, reading shouldn’t be done in one sitting but throughout the day. That’s why it’s important to always keep a book handy. Read when you and your child are relaxed and happy.”  For more book ideas check out our Babytime Books and Songs Pinterest Board  or SLJ’s recent  Board Book Round-up for what’s new and hot in the board book world.

Songs and Rhymes

While there are so many songs and rhymes out there for babies that I LOVE I’ve endeavored to whittle down the list and really celebrate the ones which are best suited to newborns. An early literacy message to share with parents about what to sing and when (besides everything and all the time): just as baby is getting to know them, caregivers can be learning what their baby is communicating through body language. Tell parents “try choosing an upbeat song when her eyes are wide and alert and when she’s sleepy, quick to cry or turns away try a quieter, soothing song.” Here are some ideas:

The Moon is Round: This lovely song is gentle and soothing and perfect for newborns. Have parents sing it through once and point out the parts of their face and then again while they gently touch baby’s face.

Peek a Boo: This is such a great song for new infants for a couple reasons. First off, because of babies’ attraction to faces, they will tune in when parents make their face disappear and reappear. Also, this begins to model the verbal convention of taking turns. Encourage parents to make big silly faces and let their baby react. By pausing after they draw their hands away, they’re letting baby know it’s your turn and I’m listening.

Ride Baby Ride: While lap bounces and dancing songs are a lot of movement for newborns we love this song because of the playful language. I wouldn’t have parents of newborns bounce to this one, instead I would suggest that they pat baby’s back or chest while they’re held close. Babies will begin to make cooing and gurgling noises at two months and parents can encourage these noises by singing songs with silly sounds or ending a rhyme with a tickle and a coo.

What are your favourite songs, rhymes and books to recommend to parents of newborns? What tips do you send home with these little bundles? Drop us a line in the comments below and stay tuned for our next Baby Storytime post!

5 thoughts on “Baby Storytime: Focus on Newborns

  1. So glad to see a resource for newborns! I do a program at a library in New York for ages 0-5 months with caregiver and it’s been a big hit, but it’s tough to come up with new material. Thank you!

    1. Hi Rebecca, you are most welcome! We realize not every library has the ability to program specially for newborns but we wanted to share some ideas. It’s awesome to hear about your 0-5 month group, have fun!

  2. A big Thank you! I love your site. I have browsed through it once and I’m inspired. Learning new songs for babies is challenging. These one are short and easy to remember. So cute too!

    1. You’re very welcome! We especially love hearing from our fellow Canadian library people 🙂

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