HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. — Early Learning specialists say it’s important for new moms to read to their newborns while they are still in the womb. 

Reading is Sherri Sabadishin’s passion and something she instilled in her kids even before birth

“When your baby’s in the womb, they can hear you,” Sabadishin said. “They hear the enthusiasm in your voice, they hear your expression.” 

She’s a mom of three and an Early Literacy Specialist with the Pasco and Hernando Early Learning Coalition. She spends most nights reading the book “Cuddle” to her youngest, Evan. 

Sherri Sabadishin reads 'Cuddle' to her youngest Evan

“Cuddle” is the custom title of a children’s book she worked on with the coalition and Child’s Play Publishing.

“This was all developed in conjunction with the fact that when I was in the hospital, I forgot to bring a book. I’m a literacy specialist and I forgot to bring a book with me to the hospital to read to my child,” Sabadishin said.  

Now, her goal is to make sure other moms have a little something too, which is why the coalition partnered with local hospitals like Bayfront Health to provide the book to new moms.

CJ Hamilton is the current Chief Administrative Officer at Bayfront Health Spring Hill. He told Bay News 9, this partnership is great for moms and the hospital.

CJ Hamilton, Chief Administrative Officer at Bayfront Health Spring Hill holding 'Cuddle' as they are being packed for new moms

“From day one if you start reading to the babies, they watch your mouth," he said. "It’s how they learn to move, it’s how they learn how to speak and you make a real connection as a mother or father or grandparent with the newborn baby. And we’re just so happy that we can partner with the PHELC to provide these with the new moms in the community.”

The Coalition has also partnered with Medical Center Trinity to provide the book. 

“I’ve never seen them with real babies in it," said Maria Sufficool, a new mom of two. "They’re mostly like pictures of different things, so this is the first book that I’ve seen with real babies in it talking about different things that you can do with them."

“You can tell they really enjoy it, especially once they can kind of comprehend more and more and that’s something we try to do, speaking non-baby talk all the time,” husband and new dad of two Andrew said. 

    Ruthie Sufficool, 1 month old

Sabadishin said the book is more than just words on a page.

“After a child’s born, the book sharing experience becomes a time where they’re building social skills with their moms," she said. "They’re learning about touch and they’re learning about emotion, they’re learning about how they feel.”

The book is currently being handed out to new moms at Bayfront Health Spring Hill and Medical Center Trinity with hopes that they can start providing them to more hospitals in the Bay Area.