Guest Post: Turning Infant Care Into Early Literacy Brain Development

My friend Kate Lowe is back with another guest post! Seriously, everyone, this woman is good. In case you missed it the first time, Kate Lowe works as a children’s librarian in Vancouver, BC. She enjoys testing out new storytime material on her 4 year old son. She is also living proof that anyone can learn to play the ukulele. Today she is sharing a way to organize a storytime that is relevant to caregivers. Take it away, Kate!


Caregivers spend a huge percentage of their day caring for their baby’s physical needs. That makes babytime the perfect platform to convince caregivers to turn one-on-one interactions into Early Literacy moments. Babies learn best when lessons are built into daily routines. Libraries aren’t the only ones that have realised the power of these everyday interactions. Ellen Galinsky’s book Mind in the Making states that caregivers can teach children skills such as self control and critical thinking by “doing everyday things in new ways”. In storytime we can pair a song or rhyme with a specific infant care task. You can tell the audience you’re about to sing  “burping songs” or a “getting in the stroller song”. This is our chance to remind caregivers that eye contact, expressive facial expressions, and a song can instantly turn a “chore” into a moment to connect with their baby and help develop their brains. I’m even considering getting a tattoo that says “Songs… they’re not just for bedtimes anymore”.

Here are a few examples to get you and your storytime audience inspired:

Diaper Changing

Ask the caregivers in your storytime how many times they’ve changed their baby’s diapers since they were born. They’ll laugh and give you a number larger than 10. It’s the perfect opportunity to suggest they turn some of those diaper changes into a moment to connect and teach their baby.

The Diaper on the Bottom
Tune: Wheels on the Bus

The diaper on the bottom
Comes off, off, off
Off, off, off
Off, off, off
The diaper on the bottom
Comes off, off, off
Nice and clean!

For more ideas check out Jbrary’s Diaper Changing Playlist.

Practicing Rolling Over

Model how to place babies on the ground and gently rock them side to side using your entire forearm on each side of the baby. Sing a rolling song. Besides being fun for the baby it safely introduces the first step to rolling over.  Here are two songs to try:

You Roll It
You roll it, you roll it, you roll it
And then you put the raisins in.

10 in the Bed
There were ten in the bed and the little one said,
“roll over, roll over.”
So they all rolled over and one fell out.
ere were 9 in the bed… Count down to zero.

Clean Up

Encourage caregivers to “narrate their day” by singing a cleaning song. This song can be repeated and changed depending how many people are tidying. At storytime the caregivers can supply the baby’s name and help them put an object into its container (shakes, scarves, etc). The song gets bonus points because it can highlight the shapes, colours, or sizes of objects.

Cleaning Up
Tune: Twinkle Twinkle

Who will clean up with me?
Who will clean up the blocks?
I am cleaning up the red
I am cleaning up the blue
I am cleaning up the green
I am cleaning up the pink
Who will clean up with me?
Who will clean up the blocks?

Getting Dressed

Many families attending storytime will be familiar with getting-dressed battles at home. Help caregivers sidestep some of those meltdowns by encouraging them to sing fun getting-dressed songs.

Baby Put Your Pants On
Baby put your pants on, pants on, pants on
Baby put your pants on, 1, 2, 3
Baby put your pants on, pants on, pants on
Baby put your pants on, 1, 2, 3
Leg to the left, leg to the right
Wiggle and jiggle and pull ’em up tight.
Leg to the left, leg to the right
Wiggle and jiggle and pull ’em up tight.

Other Verses: shirt, socks, shoes, hat

Tummy Massage for Gas

Leg lifting rhymes are fun for babies, but they also allow caregivers to gently put pressure on their babies stomachs. If you mention this tip at baby storytime you’ll probably want to be prepared with a few books about infant massage and the contact information of a local health nurse who can answer questions about gas and digestion.

Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin went to France
To teach the ladies how to dance.
First he did the rumba, rumba, rumba
Then he did the kicks, the kicks, the kicks
Then he did the samba, the samba, the samba,
Then he did the splits, the splits, the splits.


Babies start off drinking milk and formula but they see people around them eating solids. Encourage caregivers to sing songs as they prepare, serve or eat food.

I Like To Eat Apples and Bananas

I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas

I like to drink, drink, drink, milk and water

I’d like more, more ,more please and thank you

Green Zucchini
Tune: Alouette

Green zucchini, I like green zucchini
Green zucchini, that’s what I like best.
Do you like it on your head?
Yes, I like it on my head.
On your head? On my Head!
Ohhhhh. No!

What are your favourites infant care songs and rhymes to sing in babytime? Let us know in the comments!

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