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Hi, Mommy. How was your night? Are your eyes burning because I kept you up all night or did you get your benzoyl peroxide cream to close to your eyes again? I hope you’ve had your coffee because I’d like you to read me, The Pout Pout Fish, 63 more times.
Wouldn’t it be so cool if your baby just stood up in its crib and substituted its “come get me already” morning cry with this calm and pleasant conversation instead?
Just because your baby can’t engage in conversation, however, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk regularly with your baby.
You should talk to your baby every chance you get.
According to Stanford University’s Anne Fernald, the leading researcher in infant-directed speech, “babies that are spoken to regularly in an engaging and nurturing way tend to develop faster word-processing skills, or the ability to follow a sentence from one object or setting to another. This word processing speed, in turn, directly relates to the development not just of vocabulary and language skills, but also memory and nonverbal cognitive abilities.”
Mothers should hold real conversations with their baby, just as they would with their BFF. Maybe, just hold the sex talk and griping about work woes to a minimum. Talk a little more about colors, shapes, ask why they must always poo the second you change their diaper. That sort of stuff. Do you catch my drift?
Your little one is paying attention and becoming knowledgeable about words and the world around them before they even start talking themselves.
Don’t feel silly. I talk to my daughter all day. On the couch. In the car. In Aldi’s. On the walking path in the local forest preserve. While taking care of business on the loo. Literally all day.
If you’re not much of a conversationalist, find a good book, the newspaper, or heck, read the ingredients on the bottle of that cold-brew that lives in your hand (cold-brew coffee, people. Not beer). The point is to just talk to your child consistently.
Research has shown actively talking to your child in the first three years of their life builds the brain architecture that are needed later to support thinking and reading abilities.
Your baby’s brain isn’t the only thing that benefits from your talking. Lots of socializing from family and friends also builds social skills and healthy relationships.
Mama, you are ultimately your baby’s first, and best, teacher in helping your baby to build trust with others and how to interact positively.
These skills will be essential for your child’s future success in school and beyond.
Babies can also recognize emotional tone. Help your baby to communicate with you through affection and love:
- Smile regularly at your baby, especially when he or she is making gurgling and goo-goo-ga-ga sounds, and other types of baby talk.
- Look at your baby as he or she laughs or rambles, instead of looking away or moving on to something else.
- Be patient as you attempt to understand your baby’s “talking” and nonverbal communication, “like facial expressions, gurgling, or babbling sounds that could signal either frustration or joy.”
- Imitate your baby’s vocalizations — “ga-ga” or “goo-goo” — then pause for him or her to make another sound, and then repeat that.
- Gestures are a way babies attempt to communicate, imitate your baby’s gestures too. If she bobs her head, bob yours. If she opens her mouth wide and smiles, do the same.
Believe me, babies are smarter than they look. Don’t let the drooling, babbling, and obsession with Baby Shark fool you.
Talk to your baby, even if you have to read The Pout-Pout Fish 63 more times.