Parents on the Neonatal Unit at Airedale Hospital have been given free book bags as part of storytelling week, giving them some special time to read books to their babies being cared for on the unit.
National Storytelling Week – with the theme of Dreaming Up a World – is a joyful celebration of the power of sharing stories, and reading to babies in a Neonatal unit is known to help with bonding and babies’ development, and can help reduce stress that parents feel by being in a different environment with their baby.
The book bags were kindly donated to the unit by Bradford Library and included books that can be used during their stay and puppets and activities for tummy time for when they get home.
Chloe Taylor, Neonatal Sister at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust says:
“Whenever a new baby comes to our Unit we give them books and we always encourage parents to read to them. Even if they are in an incubator, babies can still hear their voices and it’s such an important bond.
No-one ever gets pregnant and has a baby and thinks they will ever come to the Neonatal unit, so we try very hard to normalise everything and encourage parents to do just what they would do at home. So even though there might be lots of wires and medical equipment, that shouldn’t take away from these parents celebrating having their baby. Sometimes that can mean starting a book series if they are here for a long time, or it can be a short story hour; it’s just about connecting with your baby and trying to remember this is your baby and doing those normal things you would have done at home.”
Clare Kernick, Staff Nurse, Neonatal Unit at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust adds:
“When parents first come onto the unit they might feel out of place or uncomfortable doing these things but we want them to know that this is something they can do with their baby while they’re having skin to skin contact or while they’re in the incubator. It’s a lovely time where they can interact with their baby and start off that reading journey for them, which every parent wants to do. We find that once parents start reading to them they enjoy it and read a lot more.”
Books were given to mum Gemma Hanson and dad Ollie Maughan from Steeton, with their 2 week old twins Willow and Luna, who were born at 29 weeks and arrived on the unit last week. Gemma is holding baby Willow in the photo.
“It’s just nice to sit and read to them and rediscover some new books too, because there were some that we haven’t read before. We’ve got a little 2 year old girl Mya already at home, she’s so excited about her new sisters.”