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Your Child's Language Development Starts in the Womb

Your Child's Language Development Starts in the Womb

I spent most of my time feeling like a beached whale in the third trimester and the only type of activity that I could do with skillful precision was surfing the Internet. I was looking for topics on giving children an early start in literacy development and one of the most important starting points, I discovered, was cultivating in them the interest to read, and that interest is first planted before the baby is even born! I was tickled at the prospect of reading to my tummy and wondered how I would sound like to him from inside.

From 25 weeks onwards, fetuses are able to discriminate between different voices, languages, and even individual speech sounds. While there hasn't been any strong scientific proof of long-term benefits from reading to a child in utero, a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that babies can recognize words after birth. So, with this knowledge forming the basis of my new belief, I proceeded to talk to my belly and feeling a tad silly in the process. On the third day of the retelling of The Three Little Pigs I got a clear reaction from my unborn child. He would stir – with what I like to think is in excitement – every time I get to the "huff-and-I-puff" part. Now that I have gotten a response, I wanted to know if there are any books out there that experts would recommend over a story of architectural integrity. Turned out that fetuses couldn’t discern apple from banana and you could read off a phonebook and it would be just as entertaining for your unborn child.

However, fetuses can recognize rhythm and sounds. This forms the early foundation of language development. According to an article in WebMD, speech pathologists Melissa Wexler Gurfein states that infants acquire speech patterns of their mothers’ native tongue faster than any other languages. This suggests that infants may have started language development while still in the womb. The secret is: repetition. So I thought to myself, if I am going to have to read the same story every-single-night, then it better be a book that I would enjoy reading ad nauseam.

The following is a list of popular books recommended by other mothers.

  1. Oh Baby, the Places You'll Go!: A Book to be Read in Utero by Dr. Seuss
  2. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
  3. I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak
  4. The Best Daddy in the World by Eleni Zabini and Susanne Lutje
  5. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
  6. Counting Kisses: A Kiss & Read book by Karen Katz
  7. It's a little book by Lane Smith
  8. The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  9. How do I love you by Marion Dane Bauer
  10. Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton

If you have any personal favourites, please let us know by using the comment box below or send us an email at writetous@owlreaders.club and share with us the books that worked for you.

In my next article, we’ll be looking at reading tips for newborn babies.

Written by Grace Chai, mother of a newborn baby boy. 

Grace is a new mom and currently undergoing intensive On-The-Job Training for her new role. Between pumping milk, changing diapers and taking selfies with her baby, Grace manages stress by writing about her motherhood experience for ParentTown.

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