How We Went From Lapsit to Baby & Me

In the Fall of 2014 we made some changes to our baby storytime. Previously the program had been called Lapsit and it was held once a month. The program was for babies and toddlers from birth to 24 months. And no one was coming. I would generally only have 1-3 babies but I knew from talking to parents who came into the library that there was an audience for this type of program. Something had to change.

I took a good long look at how we were doing things. I ended up making only two changes. I changed the name of the program from Lapsit to Baby & Me. In our community no one knew what the word lapsit meant. It was library jargon. But Baby & Me makes it clear that it is a class for babies and caregivers and it sounds inviting and fun. The second change is that we went from monthly to weekly for 6-8 week sessions.

Now here we are, a year and a half later, and attendance at Baby & Me is through the roof! During the latest session we reached our room capacity almost every week. We are going to need a bigger room!

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I think other libraries have noticed a similar trend. Our Preschool Storytime numbers seem to be dropping as more and more kids this age are in preschool or daycare. But there are a lot of caregivers looking for things to do outside the house with infants and one-year olds. I now know this from personal experience. Trust me, when you have a small baby you can go stir-crazy pretty quickly at home and there are limited things babies can do. Baby & Me is one of them, and of course parents love that its free too!

Stay tuned for an outline of how I plan Baby & Me and some examples of storytime plans. I have introduced lots of new props and activities with my Baby & Me crowd and I can’t wait to share them with you.

 

Favorite Books: Baby Storytime Edition

These are some books I’m loving right now for the under twos. I use them in my baby storytimes again and again.

Selecting books to read aloud for this age group is a challenge. A lot of our favorite toddler books are just a bit too long or too complex for infants and one-year-olds. I get a mix in my storytimes from the occasional newborns up to very active walkers, so I do target my books more towards the older babies to capture their attention.There are many board books that I also love, and while I use them occasionally and recommend my favorites to parents, I try to stick to the picture book format during storytime for easier viewing.

Plot is not the main thing when picking books for this group, in fact, with the possible exception of Baby Danced the Polka, none of these books have any plot at all. They are simple, repetitious books about every day events that babies can recognize from their lives.¬† Illustrations are simple and clean and in bright primary colors. I Like it When… is especially exemplary in this way.

Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont. A charming, romping, rhyming story of a little one who does not want to go to bed. I absolutely LOVE a book with a good rhythm, and this one is just begging to be read aloud.

The Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O’Connell. A day in the life of a toddler, complete with fun sound effects on every page as the “baby goes yum, yum, yum” eating lunch or “the baby goes splash, splash, splash” while taking a bath. I love the level of interaction the sound effects bring and parents often join in.

Hello Day! by Anita Lobel. This one has the feel of a classic and is just perfect for an animal sound theme. I quite love the cheerful watercolor and marker illustrations. It is a quiet book compared to some I use, so it also adds balance that way.

I Like it When… by Mary Murphy. I like to read this one around Valentine’s Day because it is a very sweet tale of a little penguin and her parent and the things they like to do together. It’s sentimental but in a fresh and non-saccharine way. And I can’t say enough good about the illustrations

Toddlerobics by Zita Newcome. This one’s perfect for your very active one-year-olds. It is not a sit still and listen book, it is a get up and move book! The actions are lots of fun, and the pictures show a very cute group of toddlers having a blast moving around.

Please share your favorite books for baby storytime! I would love to hear what books you read to your under two lapsits.

Lapsit, or joyous fun with babies

Lapsit is one of my favorite, favorite parts of this job. I get to be in a room full of smiling babies and caregivers and we always have so much fun singing, reading, dancing, and playing. We have Lapsit at my library once a month for 0-24 month olds. There can be a wide variation in ages and abilities, from true infant lapsiters all the way up to busy walkers. Lately we’ve had mostly walkers attending, which has made it a little easier, but I want to make sure parents know babies are welcome starting from birth.

I have been doing¬†this program for a year now, and this fall I am finally feeling like I have it down. I have a pretty set schedule I use each month, and I repeat many of the same songs and rhymes. Almost everything I do in lapsit I learned from the talented Mary Frasier during my internship at the Monroe County Public Library. The links below are Mary herself singing the opening and closing songs I borrowed from her! I have also learned a ton from the amazing Melissa at Mel’s Desk. She knows so much about baby storytime! So here it is, my plan for a typical lapsit.

Opening Song: Hello Everybody

Bubbles and Music

Read a Book

Open Them, Shut Them (my own variation)

Song/Flannel Board

Fingerplay or Rhyme

Read a Second Book

Dancing (with scarves, bells, shakers, etc.)

Goodbye Song: Clap Your Hands

Craft or Play Time

I read two books, which sometimes I shorten, we always sing the same opening song, closing song, and do Open Them, Shut Them somewhere in the middle. We always blow bubbles to music at the beginning and dance to music at the end. In the middle I mix it up with different bouncing rhymes, songs, flannel boards, or nursery rhymes.

So there it is! Lapsit lasts about twenty minutes, after which parents usually stay around and chat. I have just started adding a more structured play or baby craft portion at the end which has been very successful. I’m getting better at squeezing those important literacy tips for the parents in as well. I’ll be sharing more specific plans for my lapsits in the next few weeks. How do you structure your lapsits? Any tricks or tips for us?