A programme designed to improve bonding between newborn babies and their families was launched in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty in May.
Storytime Foundation Chief Executive Tony Culliney says the “Books for Babies” programme is designed to encourage families to bond with their newborn children through books.
“Real moments of magic can occur when cuddling and playing with a young child. Reading is a great way to help build a loving, caring relationship between parents and children, something that’s vitally important to a child’s health and development.
“We, via Plunket and other Well Child providers, give age appropriate books to families, who have not yet had an experience of using books, as way to help them experience the joy that a young baby can bring to their family”, he says.
Sue Hardley, Plunket Waikato Area Manager, says that as New Zealand’s largest provider of Well Child services, seeing 9 out of 10 babies born in New Zealand, Plunket is uniquely placed to help support and deliver the programme.
“We’re always looking for new ways to work with parents and communities to ensure that New Zealand children get the best start in life.
“Research is showing that children introduced to books as babies not only have increased literacy but better health outcomes in the long-term. This just seemed a natural fit for us.”
The “Books for Babies” programme was first introduced in Auckland in 1997 and to date, over 55,000 books have been delivered to families with newborn children.
Funding and in-kind sponsorship for the programme has come from a number of agencies, including Todd Foundation, Tindall Foundation, First Sovereign Trust, Penguin, Macmillan, Hauraki PHO and other funders. Mr Culliney says once the programme is underway he’s hopeful of securing further financial support to expand the programme.
The “Books for Babies” programme, which is being rolled out over the next 6 months, is a cooperative venture involving the Storytime Foundation, Plunket and other Well Child providers, plus libraries and local and national funders.