Am J Perinatol 2023; 40(03): 255-259
DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-1731043
Clinical Opinion

Reading Aloud with Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: A Unit-Based Program to Enhance Language Enrichment and Support Early Foundational Relationships

1   Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
2   Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
Perri Klass
3   Department of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York
4   Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York University, New York, New York
Terrie E. Inder
1   Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
2   Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
› Author Affiliations
Funding None.


Objective Early meaningful auditory experiences in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) enhance language outcomes and promote cognitive and social–emotional development.

Methods This is a descriptive report sharing our level III NICU experience of building a reading-aloud enrichment program with the goals of enhancing infant neurodevelopment and strengthening early parent–infant relationships.

Results We propose a roadmap for program development, outline challenges and possible ways to mitigate them, and highlight opportunities for further research in this area.

Key Points

  • Early auditory experiences enhance language, cognitive, and social–emotional development.

  • High-risk infants experience an atypical neurosensory environment while receiving care in the NICU.

  • Reading aloud in the NICU enhances language enrichment and supports early foundational relationships.

  • We describe our center's experience with building a reading-aloud enrichment program in the NICU.

Publication History

Received: 14 January 2021

Accepted: 30 April 2021

Article published online:
07 June 2021

© 2021. Thieme. All rights reserved.

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