Bedtime storytime is a wonderful daily ritual for parents to bond with their children before sleep. Research has also shown that children’s reading habits between the ages of 1 to 3 are significantly linked to their reading comprehension abilities around the age of 7. 

By starting a bedtime story routine when infants are 8 to 9 months old, parents can lay a strong foundation for their children, with numerous advantages for their development and when they start going to school.

However, storytelling is a skill, and getting it just right can feel challenging at times. Here, we share our top 5 tips practiced by early childhood educators to help make storytelling a more engaging and calming experience for both parents and children. From enriching stories visually to connecting it to your child's imagination, these tips aim to improve your child's language development while also easing them into a restful night's sleep.

5 Bedtime Story Tips

Engage with Vocal and Facial Expressions

Use vocal tones and facial expressions to engage your child's attention, and to bring the bedtime story to life! Young children are drawn to these simple cues which help them listen carefully and focus on the words. Varied tones and expressions make the story come alive.


  • Change your tone when a character speaks to add excitement or suspense. "The tiger growled menacingly, 'I'm going to get you!'” 
  • Gasps, laughs or sighs when things happen to characters to mirror emotion
  • Use whispering for calm/quiet parts to soothe your child before bed

Describe the Story Visually

Provide rich descriptions of the illustrations or visual elements of the story. Children are strongly visually oriented, so painting a picture with words engages them further. Describe characters, settings and key details which helps develop imagination and association.


  • Paint word pictures of settings like "a dense jungle with trees as a tall as skyscrapers"
  • Detail characters' facial expressions and body language
  • Act out actions like climbing or swimming to engage their visual imagination


Relate the Story to Your Child's Experiences

Connect elements of the story to things your child is familiar with in their everyday life to help them relate to and understand the story.

For example, if you are reading or telling a story about small animals, you should connect the characters or plots in the story with any pets you may have at home. "This puppy loves to eat just as much as the doggies in our home."


  • Mention recent places they visit: "Do these ducks look like the ones we saw at the lake last time?"
  • Mention similarities between the story’s characters and people they know


Ask Open-Ended Questions

Pause during the story to ask questions that encourage thinking and prolong the experience. Asking "why" questions about characters' motives, feelings and choices stimulates insight into human behaviors. If they’re younger, you can ask simple questions to keep them engaged.


  • "Why do you think the girl felt sad?"
  • "What would you have done if you were the boy?"
  • "How do you think the story will end?"
  • “Is that the boy’s mommy? Who is your mommy?"
  • How many rabbits are there behind the tree?”


Keep Story Time Brief and Calming

Aim for 8-10 minutes to avoid overstimulation before bed. Use a soothing tone and pace to relax your child before bed. While stories offer benefits for child development, ensure that they're well-rested, which should be the priority over lengthy sessions.



Stephanie Huen
Certified Health Consultant, Pediatric Sleep Expert
Co-Founder of Hush Home and Little Hushies

About Stephanie

Stephanie is the Co-founder of Hush Home and Little Hushies.
As a certified infant and adult sleep expert, she's passionate about educating others on the importance of sleep for overall wellness. Her aim is to promote and encourage optimal sleeping environments through natural, sustainably-made products. 

After her own premature newborn needed help catching up on development, Stephanie delved deeper into studying infant sleep science. This inspired her to launch Little Hushies and develop products specially designed for baby wellness. With backgrounds in marketing and logistics, she brings expertise to both guiding her brands and empowering parents on establishing healthy sleep habits from a young age.

When she’s not pursuing a deep and rejuvenating sleep or spending time with her son, Stephanie can be found on the tennis court or at the piano!