Bonding in the NICU through reading program


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Parents whose babies must go into the NICU have an option to bond with their child.

After listening to a podcast from the NANN, Ashley Jarman with Sanford Health says it sparked her interest to start a reading program for babies in the NICU.

“So she said, research shows that the single strongest predictor of a child’s academic success is not socioeconomic status level of parent, education, income, or ethnicity, but rather the quality and quantity of words Spoken to the baby in the first three years of life,” Jarman said.

With the help of a developmental therapist, the program came to life. Since launching a few months ago, the NICU reading program has 10 to 15 families taking part.

“Maybe you think that they’re so little that they don’t understand it, but it’s more of like the familiar voices and us being first-time parents are like, what do I talk to her about?” Kristi Sabo said.

Kristi Sabo took advantage of the program with her daughter Lennon, born 12 weeks early.
She says reading helped her bond with her newborn over the next 109 days spent in the NICU.

“It’s like, just those times that you’re just laying there and you’re like, okay, well what, what can we be doing? Especially we’re in a hospital setting, not a whole lot of like, you know, normal play time, I guess you could say,” Sabo said.

Sabo plans to continue reading to her daughter, and that’s something Jarman says is important– stating that babies brains grow by around 80 percent in the first 3 months of life.

“One kind of analogy that we use with educating the parents on this program is that just like breast milk or formula nourishes the baby’s body, words are nourishing the baby’s brain,” Jarman said.

If you’re interested in donating books to the NICU reading program, call (605) 328-3097.

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