Parents "Reach Out and Read" To Tiny NICU Patients
When first-time mom Indira Bhattacharjee delivered twin boys prematurely late last year, she was very apprehensive about their development. Through the quality care her infants received in Elmhurst’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the babies thrived and were able to go home about a month and a half after they were born.
One of the techniques Indira used to connect with her infants while they were still hospitalized was to read to them. “When babies are sick and parents have a limited role in their care, reading helps with parent-child bonding,” said Dr. Uday Patil, Assistant Director of the NICU. “Babies can hear voices even in the incubator, and they are particularly good at distinguishing their mother’s voices from other voices.” Since the summer of 2017, parents with infants hospitalized in the NICU have been offered books to read to their infants through the support of Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.
“Reach Out and Read already had a long-standing relationship with our Pediatric Clinic and we were very enthusiastic about expanding this program into both the NICU and the Mother and Baby Unit,” added Dr. Patil, who says the feedback from parents has been very positive. “Having a child in the NICU can be very emotionally challenging, so offering parents a way to be more involved benefits both the families and the babies. We are also excited to support early literacy through this program.”
A typical title parents are offered to read (either in English or in Spanish) is Let Me Read to You My Little One, which is written in short, simple sentences (allowing for an infant to hear the pitch of a parent or caregiver’s voice) and has lots of colorful pictures.
For more information on the Reach Out and Read program, please visit reachoutandread.org.