DYK: When parents express concerns about bedtime, you can use a mini-assessment to provide support? Share with parents and families this Bedtime Conversations Checklist and Action Plan.
Snuggle up with your baby and a durable board book to make bedtime reading much more relaxing. As a book lover, it’s hard for me to watch my baby rip, gnaw and chew on traditional picture book pages, which are just made of paper.
Board books to the rescue! Materials made of more durable cardboard board books are the perfect companion for nighttime reading to babies. A couple of criteria are helpful to remember when selecting a bedtime board book instead of a daytime one for reading.
First, the book’s length is important. A board book for bedtime should be relatively short. Most likely, or hopefully, the baby is sleepy. Therefore, it would not be easy to follow along with a longer or more detailed story. Second, the engagement and interactive factors of the book are key for bedtime. A nice balance between engaging but not too interactive to give the baby more energy is a great goal when picking a bedtime board book. One way to ensure that your little one stays engaged is to have your baby face you instead of holding the book in front of them with their back to you while reading at bedtime.
Below, I compiled 10 of my family’s favorite board books to read at bedtime. We have read these books multiple times a night with our nine-month-old son! Each recommended book includes a brief description and a suggestion to extend the reading experience.
Oh, So Many Kisses (padded board book) by Maura Finn
All we need is more love in this world or perhaps a plethora of kisses to offer! New kisses, old kisses, soft kisses and slow kisses- this padded board book (for extra durability) depicts diverse illustrations and short phrases to identify different ways for children, parents, families and friends to show love.
Extension: Offer your baby kisses throughout the book. Come up with a phrase to describe a type of kiss in your family.
Hush-A-Bye Bunny by Holly Surplice
A sing-along variation of a classic song that will calm your little one before bed, hopefully. The bunny’s mom sings to him throughout their evening routine, which is so sweet.
Extension: Insert your child’s name instead of bunny throughout the book while singing along.
Daddy Cuddles by Anne Gutman and George Hallensleben
Warning: Cuteness Overload! It is an adorable story with sentences describing how animals such as monkeys, tigers and koalas cuddle with their babies.
Extension: Show baby your favorite way to cuddle. Is your cuddle similar to any of the animals?
Goodnight Football by Michael Dahl
For football fans: you and your baby will feel like you are attending your first football game together in this story.
Extension: Read as if you are a sports commentator with enthusiastic intonation. Show your baby goalpost arms for the touchdown!
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star Sing-Along (padded board book) adapted by Susie Linn
Just a little bit of nostalgia for you! It’s a fun twist on the classic song with animals and a town fast asleep. This durable padded board book is sure to soothe you and your baby.
Extension: Learn American Sign Language for the word star and sprinkle the sign throughout the book while you sing along.
Rock-a-Bye Dino by Hannah Eliot
More nostalgia for you! A super fun variation on the classic song with adorable dinosaurs getting ready for bed.
Extension: Use a rocking motion while reading and singing if your baby allows it. Identify the verbs such as stomp, yawn, rock, eat and hug. Act out each verb!
Haiku Night by Betsy Snyder
WHO doesn’t love owls???? A series of six haiku poems about insects and animals going to sleep will encourage your little one to sleep soundly. The Japanese word for each poem title is included as well.
Extension: Create your own haiku and say it aloud to your baby. A haiku has three lines. The first has five syllables, the second with seven and the third with five. An example haiku is below:
I love you so much
It is true how I adore you
I love you this much (with arms spread wide and then wrapped into a hug around your baby.)
Sleepyheads by Sandra J. Howatt
You will love the big bear and baby bunny napping together!
Discover where birds, squirrels, otters and ducks rest their heads for sleep in this cute board book. Where does the baby rest, his sleepyhead? Read to find out!
Extension: Show your child a simple finger play by laying your hand flat curling, in your thumb as a pretend baby, and then wrapping your fingers around the thumb as a blanket. Describe what you are doing to your baby, and kiss your thumb goodnight! If your child has a favorite stuffed animal or doll, you could do the extension with one of those instead.
Tickle My Ears by Jorg Muhle
In this interactive board book, you and your baby help the bunny go to sleep.
Extension: The interaction is built right into the story. Tap the little bunny on his shoulder, clap to get him to put his pajamas on and tickle his ears before he goes to sleep.
Baby Night-Night (Indestructible book) by Kate Merritt
This book is a bonus to my family’s favorite board book list. This indestructible book series is amazing for parents, families, providers and other caregivers. Made of super durable and soft, almost fabric-like paper, your baby can bite or pull on it. The best part is that you don’t have to fear rips or tears. This book focuses on a bedtime routine by identifying nouns in the environment, such as the bathroom and bedroom.
Extension: During your baby’s bedtime routine, identify nouns such as diapers, pajamas, toothbrushes, books and crib. Speak the nouns aloud to your little one before bed.
Remember: reading aloud each day to children beginning from birth leads to more robust vocabularies and better early literacy skills. I hope you can pick a board book from this list to borrow from your local library and incorporate it into your bedtime routine with your baby.
Happy Reading Aloud!