Baby Storytime: Putting it All Together

For the past seven months Dana and I have been writing about all the elements that make up our baby storytimes.  I decided to write a final post showing how all of these elements come together to form a complete 30-minute baby storytime at my library.  Here are the more detailed posts about each element:

You can also check out our Baby Storytime Beginner’s Guide which has links to resource books and other bloggers who share their ideas and plans. It’s important to remember that everyone does storytime different and that includes babytime!  In fact, my own baby storytime has changed over the years depending on my community, the size of the group, the resources I have on hand, and the things I’m currently digging.   I’ve written up two of my programs before – a basic baby storytime and one with play activities integrated.

This baby storytime is what I do for my group of about 10-14 caregivers and their babies who come to the library each week.

1. Welcoming Activities

Please read the  first post in this series for an explanation of my welcome puppet kisses, opening message, and group introductions.  This part takes about 5-10 minutes but really sets the tone for a welcoming and fun program.  One of the things I started doing this season is posting all the lyrics to the songs and rhymes on a giant flipchart.  I sit next to the flipchart and turn the pages as we go.  It has helped tremendously in allowing caregivers to participate in the babytime.


The two welcome songs I’ve been doing for my current session are:

I’m only able to do this song with my small babytime group because we sing a verse for everyone. Can you tell I really want people to get to know each other?

This is one of my favourites. For babytime, I do the following verses: touch your nose, touch your ears, clap your hands, beep your belly.  We also practice waving hello to each other at the end, one of the first social skills babies learn.

2.  Songs, Rhymes, and Bounces

After we do our welcome songs I move into some songs and bounces.  One of the things I’ve learned is to go slow. Sing each song 2-3 times through. Repeat songs every week.  Weave in early literacy tips and time to engage with the parents.  I’ve totally relaxed in this regard compared to when I first started.  Now I’ll throw out a question every now and then and try to get the caregivers to talk to me and each other.  It’s much less formal and much more engaging.  Here are the songs in my current rotation:

I learned this one from Mel’s Desk and it’s a babytime staple now.  Sometimes we swap out “roll” and use animal sounds like “moo, moo, sugar babies.”

I encourage caregivers to turn babies to face them while we do this bounce so that babies can watch their mouths form the words. This bounce is so fun- we squeeze, dip back, and tilt to the side.

A classic bounce.  Many of the caregivers already know this one so it’s fun for them to sing.  We do the second verse too – “One wheel’s off and the axle’s broken” and tip babies to the side.  I also added a verse called, “Bumping Up and Down in My Little Black Stroller” and we talk about ways to adapt songs to daily life.

This is a really simple bounce.  Each week we make up a new verse – a curvy road, a windy road, a rocky road.  A great way to model how to incorporate new vocabulary into baby’s life.

3.  Dancing and Movement

I love to dance and have incorporated that element into my babytimes.  Most of the songs include some lifting which the babies LOVE, but I offer modifications such as lifting baby’s arms instead.  Caregivers are also welcome to stay seated for this part. The three songs I’ve been doing lately are:

We sing this song 2-3 times and change out the name of the caregiver. Sometimes it’s Mama, sometimes Papa, sometimes Auntie.  Sometimes I ask for family names we can try out together.

My group has been loving this song lately.  We get in a circle and swing the babies towards the middle for the first group and then they each turn and face another baby for the second verse.  I have the caregivers find a partner before we start the song so they know who to turn towards.  Sometimes I’ll add a third verse that goes, “Go up and down the staircase” and caregivers can lift babies into the air.

A Vancouver favourite.  I end this song by adding on the line, “and we sit back down” which gets us all sitting and settled again.

4.  Read a Book

Please see the post I wrote on what I read at babytime for a list of read alouds that target baby’s brain development and encourage interaction between baby and caregiver. A really easy way to integrate an early literacy tip into storytime is to simply tell people why chose the book you are reading.  Does it have repetition?  Have bold, sharply contrasted images?  Is it by an author you love who has other books you would recommend?  Just explaining your choice is a tip to caregivers.

5.  Playtime

For the last ten minutes of baby storytime, I pull out one of the following play items and we sing some songs.  If I had some extra money laying around, I would invest in more baby toys for this part of the program. We usually do 3 songs that correlate to the play item.  Check out the links for examples of songs to do with each item.

6.  Goodbye Songs

I end each babytime by singing the ABCs and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  Then I go around and give everyone a goodbye kiss from my duckie puppet.  Caregivers are free to stay and play and talk to each other for as long as they’d like.
So that’s what my babytime looks like right now!  I’m sure it will change as I learn more and as I get access to new program supplies.  How do you do babytime? I’d love to hear in the comments!

9 thoughts on “Baby Storytime: Putting it All Together

  1. I could use your expert advice- what do you do when you lose a group? I followed your outline a couple of times now, first time went smoothly. The next time we had several toddlers running about, so that threw things off, but since the group was a bit bigger/louder, several moms were just talking loudly to one another. Seems as though I had lost them. How do you bring them back without flat out telling moms that it’s rude to be talking and they should be focusing on their baby/singing. Any tips?

    1. Ah, losing a group is something I think every storytime presenter faces at some point, if not often. I’m by no means an expert on how to deal with this, it’s something I struggle with sometimes too. The best thing I’ve found for me is to just pause what I’m doing, sit there silently for a bit, and wait until the room quiets down. When I start to speak I’ll do so in a whisper. Most of the time the caregivers get the hint or other caregivers will ask them to stop talking. Other times a song is what brings them back, especially one where they are encouraged to touch their baby. You can also flat out ask them to save socializing until after storytime in your opening message. But there are lots of different strategies to try. There’s a good post on Storytime Underground with more ideas:

      1. Thanks so much for replying. That link provided some helpful scripts I’ll try. Our BT only lasts 20 min and then parents stay afterward as long as they’d like to socialize and play with toys, so they definitely have enough time to chat.

      2. I usually put down the book I am reading and quietly sing “Are we looking (hand shielding eyes as if searching), are we listening (hand cupped to ear)” in the tune of Fere Jacques. I repeat it slowly and quietly until I hear “Yes we are! Yes we are!” followed by silence. It seems to work for adults and kiddos! I like the call and responses like that because it gets them ready for school too.

  2. You guys are my favorites 🙂 When you read a book during babytime, do you just have the one copy you read to the entire group, or do you do more of a choral reading where everyone attending has a copy of the book?

    1. Thank you, Molly! I just read one book. My library doesn’t have board book storytime sets, but I know of many other libraries that do it that way. I think it’s great if you can get a board book into the hands of every caregiver, either through a choral reading of the same book or by having out board books from your collection before and after babytime.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.