Audiobooks with Baby: Yay or Nay?

As I’ve mentioned here many times, I love to listen to audiobooks in the car. It makes me almost enjoy the commute and ridiculous traffic (okay, maybe not the traffic). Since Evan came along, I’ve continued listening in the car, whether or not he is in it. I figured, “hey, books are good for kids, why not?” Plus, he usually falls asleep (although I never know when since my car and those headrest mirrors do not get along).

Then I listened to Battle Royale and exposed my not-quite-4-month-old to the deaths dozens of children.  The next book after that, The Ugly Duchess, had some serious sexytimes that made me want to cover my own ears (clearly, I am winning mom of the year here). So I got to thinking: SHOULD I be listening to these adult books with a baby in the car?

My concerns:

  • If I don’t listen to audiobooks with Evan around, I lose about half of my audiobook time.
  • Are these books really any worse than the music on the radio or the stories on NPR?
  • If I decide that they are bad for the baby, am I then stuck listening only to kid-friendly radio stations for the foreseeable future? Because there is only so much of the Jack-Johnson-filled-Pandora-stations I can listen to and I already get my fill when we’re home.
  • Is it realistic to attempt to listen to baby-friendly books with Evan in the car and reserve the more mature books for when he isn’t with me?

Evan is 4 months old. He is soaking up the world like a sponge. But he’s obviously not understanding the books at this point. So maybe I’m okay for awhile and will only have to limit my audiobook listening sometime in the future?

What do you say, dear readers? Advise me, lovely commentors.

8 thoughts on “Audiobooks with Baby: Yay or Nay?

  1. Jen - Devourer of Books October 2, 2012 / 9:30 am

    So, my thoughts are: you’re still ok for awhile. Daniel heard my audiobooks (including one that had the author talking about the fact she had been sexually abused by her father) until probably 8 or 9 months. After that, as long as he’s not asking for/needing music yet you can do NPR, because they generally warn you if there’s something you might not want your kid to listen to. If you don’t want to do ‘child-friendly’ radio your other options are cds, where at least you can choose the music yourself, and classical music.


  2. Karen White October 2, 2012 / 10:30 am

    I’d say definitely keep your audiobooks on for now. I’m not an expert on brain development but I don’t believe he can get the meaning at this point. I have to admit that I kept listening to NPR news in the car until my toddler said, “Mommy, what’s a suicide bomber?” so that tells you where I’m coming from 😉
    I’d also say that we have enjoyed listening to books together – kids can hear books way before they are ready to read them, so you have all that good kid literature to look forward to…
    I’m with you on the vapid kid music. Dan Zanes and They Might Be Giants are fun, tho.


  3. Sandy October 2, 2012 / 12:12 pm

    One side of me says “If I suffered through years of Raffi and Disney music, then so do you!!!”. Hee hee. OMG those CD’s were enough to drive me to the bottle. I would agree with Karen and Jen, though. I think you are OK for now. He is just hearing sounds and has no clue, and no I don’t believe that classical music is going to make him smarter. But there will come a time when you will have to change your strategy. Once my kids got to like 3rd or 4th grade, we started listening to audios together. Like Harry Potter was great for that! Pendragon, and Lois Lowry, and 39 Clues, and that all morphs into YA as they get older. Then once they are teens, they won’t touch any of it with a ten foot pole. But you have time!


  4. zibilee October 2, 2012 / 1:14 pm

    I think it’s ok to do it for now, when he can’t understand what’s going on, but when he can, then it’s time for headphones, even in the car. One ear in, and one out. That may be a possible solution for you!


  5. JoAnn October 4, 2012 / 7:29 pm

    I started listening to audiobooks when my oldest was 11 and the twins were 8 (they’re 22 and 19 now), but I never listened while they were in the car – that’s prime conversation time! The others are right – you don’t have much to worry about yet. However, a word of caution… I’m currently listening to City of Women by David Gillham. It is a tense and intense book, and the narrator is doing an outstanding job conveying the tension and anger felt by the characters. A 4 month old would definitely pick up on this atmosphere and probably be disturbed, especially if they are used to a more soothing, loving environment. So yes, you still have more audiobook time, just be sure to screen your selections!


  6. Beth F October 6, 2012 / 7:38 am

    There is so much great middle grade, classic, and “safe” YA and adult books that you should be ok with some screening.


  7. Gayle October 8, 2012 / 11:53 pm

    Enjoy it while you can! I think you’re safe for a few more months.


  8. Literary Feline October 9, 2012 / 1:00 pm

    My daughter prefers music, and so I often will play a CD when we’re in the car together. The one time I just had to listen to my audio book because I was so close the end would be the time curse words started flying out. She was too young to understand, fortunately, but imagine if it was right now when she mimics everthing she hears . . . I hadn’t expected the language as there hadn’t been any in the book up to that point.


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