How ( And Why ) To Read To Your Newborn - Dr. Meredith Clayton, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Reading to your baby is a great way to give her a head start in life. You don’t even have to wait for her to be born. When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband would often read Goodnight Moon to her, and after she was born, we were delighted that she seemed to recognize the book!

Some studies show that newborn babies become calmer when they hear the same stories and songs they heard in the womb. This is especially important in the last 10 weeks of pregnancy when they are starting to absorb language. Reading is important, even before babies are born!

After babies are born, looking at and talking about books with them is a first step in teaching them to talk. Children whose parents talk and read to them often know more words by age 2 than toddlers who have not been read to.

A couple things to keep in mind when reading books to your baby: 1) newborns only see about 8-12 inches in front of their face; 2) they only see in black and white and shades of grey at birth (they develop color vision around 4 months of age), so they like contrasting black and white with bold geometric shapes. You can easily find black and white books created especially for newborns.

Set aside a few minutes every day to read with your baby. Make sure she is changed and fed and not too sleepy yet. Making reading part of the bedtime routine is a good idea. Keep this time distraction free, away from TV and phones. From 0-3 months, only expect your baby to pay attention for about 2 minutes. He will start looking at the book and your face. Eventually, he will start to smile and coo. Read with a lot of expression in your face and voice. This will help with emotional development.

No need to stress. With newborns, simply say the words and point to the pictures, in whichever language you choose. Babies love repetition so don’t worry about reading the same books over and over. Books with rhymes and songs are good for little babies.

You can keep a book in the diaper bag and when you have some time while waiting at the doctor’s office or taking the bus, pull it out and read with your baby instead of showing her a phone. Set your baby up to be a happy reader!

Dr. Meredith Clayton, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics

How To Keep Your Baby Warm (But Not Too Warm) This Winter. - Dr. Meredith Clayton

How to keep your baby warm (but not too warm) this winter.

I moved from Southern California to Chicago a few years ago. During winters here, I watch parents struggling to get bundled up babies into strollers. This makes me thankful that I didn’t move here until my daughter was old enough to dress herself and was well past potty training!

Babies (1 year and younger) do not control their own body temperatures very well. Their bodies have to use a lot of energy just to stay warm if they are not dressed well for cold weather. They are more likely to get hypothermia, a condition where a person’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees and can lead to the person’s heart stopping. Toddlers are also at risk if the weather is too cold and can get hypothermia and frostbite (freezing of the skin).

You can go out with your children in Winter, just follow some precautions. If the wind-chill is 32 degrees or above then it is generally safe to be outside. When the temperature is between 13 degrees and 31 degrees, you can go outside with your children but try to take inside breaks at least every 30 minutes to warm up. When the wind-chill is 13 degrees or below, it is really best to stay inside. If you must leave the house, make sure your baby or toddler is well-dressed for the cold and keep your outdoor time as short as possible.

If you are putting your baby or toddler in the car, don’t put your baby in a car seat wearing a bulky coat or snowsuit as this will make it hard to tighten the car seat straps. This makes the car seat unsafe. It is better to lay the coat or a blanket over the car seat straps. If you are using a stroller, a bunting bag or a warm blanket placed over your baby will help keep him warm. If you are using a plastic stroller cover make sure that air is able to get in and out of the stroller through ventilation areas or loose fitting of the cover. Using a baby carrier is a great way to keep your baby warm. If your coat is big enough to fit around the carrier, don’t zip it up higher than the base of your baby’s neck. Check your baby’s hands and feet often to make sure they are not too cold.

Here’s a helpful rule of thumb for dressing your baby to go out in the cold: put on one more layer than you are wearing. For example, if you are feeling comfortable in a long sleeve shirt and a winter coat, then dress your baby in a long sleeve outfit, a sweater, and a winter coat. Make sure to add a hat, gloves and warm socks and booties.

You can use this same rule of thumb indoors, but remember to not make the baby too hot. Overheating may be a cause of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) in babies. You can tell if your baby is too hot if she is sweating, has red cheeks or a hot tummy. Keep your house temperature between 68 degrees and 72 degrees. When your baby is sleeping, follow the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for safe sleep: Place your baby on his back, on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight fitting sheet. Don’t use soft bedding, pillows, crib bumpers, blankets, pillows or soft toys. The crib should be bare.

Follow these simple tips to enjoy a comfortable winter with your baby.

Dr.Clayton, pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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We understand that the challenges facing many parents in the City of Chicago are daunting. We created HelloBaby to help meet the needs of underserved families – following our collective hearts and consciences, with each detail and every decision. From that vision, we formed guiding principles that support our programs - principles we continue to revisit and refine, because ultimately, we simply want to be, create and do better.


Where has the time gone? It seems like HelloBaby was just born and now we find ourselves celebrating our 1st birthday! Like all new parents, we weren’t quite sure what to expect in our first year. We are happy to report that HelloBaby has far exceeded our hopes and dreams. It has become the magical gathering place we envisioned and so much more. We thank you for being a part of our HelloBaby family. We are proud to share our Annual Report with you. Because of your support our services are free of charge – always.

HelloBaby Receives AIGA Social Sustainability Design Award

CHICAGO, IL, December 11, 2017 – Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood is now home to design award-winning HelloBaby, a new children's play center. HelloBaby received the AIGA Social Sustainability Award for its transformative design of what was once an abandoned day care center, to a high-quality gathering place for infants and their caregivers.

HelloBaby architectural design partner, Perkins + Will, was founded on the belief that design has the power to transform lives and enhance communities. The firm collaborates with clients all over the world to create healthy, sustainable places in which to live, learn, work, play, and heal. The result of their work with HelloBaby is an innovative, fun and vibrant space that has garnered high marks from its more than 1,400 guests since it opened in July 2017.

“We believe that quality design should not be reserved for the affluent. Intelligent, sustainable, attractive design, like affordable family services, is profoundly lacking in many of our neighborhoods. HelloBaby helps bridge the design gap.” Debbie Frisch, HelloBaby Founder

HelloBaby’s award for sustainable design was announced on December 8th at the AIGA annual awards ceremony in St. Louis, Missouri. The AIGA Awards program is a distinct design competition recognizing the importance and excellence of socially responsible and community-driven work created by design professionals, students, educators, businesses and organizations from around the world.