Welcome to the first post in a new series I’m kicking off all about baby storytime! We get asked a lot about how we run a baby storytime, and my Baby Storytime Beginner’s Guide is still a great resource to check out. Two weeks ago, I switched to a new job where I get to do THREE BABYTIMES a week. Cue excited dance! In this post I’ll talk about how I start a baby storytime. Future posts will include:
- Favourite Fingerplays and Tickles
- Favourite Lap Bounces
- Focus on Newborns
- Favourite Dancing Songs
- Favourite Books for Baby Storytime
- Using Scarves and Egg Shakers with Babies
- Using a Parachute with Babies
- Putting it All Together: A Baby Storytime Program
At my library, baby storytimes (lovingly referred to as babytimes) are advertised for ages 0 -18 months. Because babies vary so greatly in development, I often tell parents with super active 17-month-olds that they may enjoy a toddler or family storytime more. The majority of the babies who attend can’t walk yet, and the focus is on helping caregivers develop a loving relationship with their child.
So what does the first 5-10 minutes of a babytime look like? Here’s what I do:
1. Welcome Puppet Kisses
This actually starts 5-10 minutes before babytime officially begins. It’s something I just started doing, but I’ve gotten such a great response that I’m definitely going to keep it up. As caregivers and babies arrive and get settled, I personally greet them and give baby a kiss on the hand or cheek with my little duckie puppet. If it’s one of my big babytimes with over 40 babies, then I reach as many as I can and catch the rest afterwards. Why do I give welcome puppet kisses? It gives me a chance to learn each baby’s name. It makes me more approachable, and the babies seem to warm up to me sooner. It models play to the caregivers. Last week one mom told me should would have never thought to use a puppet with her baby, but her baby laughed each time duckie kissed her and she was sold.
2. Opening Message for Caregivers
Though many of the caregivers who come to storytime are regulars, I try hard to include an opening message that welcomes new faces. Just the basics – what we’ll be doing, why we do it, and any general rules. I love Brooke’s introduction to babytime and have stolen some her wording. Mine goes something like this:
“Welcome everyone to baby storytime! My name is Lindsey and I’m the children’s librarian at this branch. I am so excited to see everyone! During babytime, we’re going to sing lots of songs and rhymes and read a book together. This is a time for you and your baby to bond so please sing along with me and take this chance to play and cuddle with your baby. If your little one is having a rough day feel free to step out and come back if you can. I promise I won’t be offended. Before we sing our first song, let’s get to know each other first.”
3. Group Introductions
Unfortunately I have to cut this part out if the group gets too big just because it takes too much time. But if I have less than 15 babies, I have the caregivers go around and say their name, the baby’s name, and the age of the baby. If the group is really small, then I’ll also ask them to share something about their baby – a recent milestone, a like or dislike, etc. Not only does this help solidify the baby’s name in my mind, it also helps create a sense of community for the caregivers. I often find them chatting after babytime about something someone mentioned during this part.
4. Welcoming Songs
Then we sing a few welcome and wake-up songs! Here are my favourites:
This is a must-sing! We wake up our feet, hands, ears, and hair. I tell caregivers that this is a great song to sing in the morning when baby first wakes up or when they are changing their diaper.
Another one we do every single week. My friend and co-worker Saara taught me this one and it is brilliant. Also works swell with toddlers!
For my smaller groups, I love singing this song and adding in each of the baby’s names. You can sub in other actions for “clap” too such as bounce, jump, stomp, and hug.
An easy tune, lots of repetition, and another great song to teach caregivers for cranky baby mornings!
This last one is definitely more of a challenge, but it’s got such great sounds in it. It works best if you sing it every single week and provide caregivers with the lyrics. If you’ve got a babytime group that’s ready for something new, this would be a great one to introduce.
So that’s how I start my baby storytime. What do you do? Please let me know in the comments!