A programme designed to improve bonding between new borns and their families was launched in the Waikato this week.

The first communities to receive the programme, being rolled out during the next six months, are in Matamata, Te Aroha, Paeroa, Waihi, Coromandel, Huntly, Ngaruawahia, Raglan, Morrinsville, Thames and Whangamata.



Storytime Foundation chief Executive Tony Culliney says the 'Books for Babies' programme is designed to encourage families to bond with their newborn through books.



"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," he says.

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Plunket Waikato area manager Sue Hardley says research is showing children introduced to books as babies not only have increased literacy but better health outcomes in the long-term. This seemed a natural fit for us.



The programme was introduced in Auckland in 1997 and to date, more than 55,000 books have been delivered to families with new borns.



The programme is a cooperative venture involving the foundation, Plunket and other Well Child providers, plus libraries and local and national funders.