How to raise a baby that is communicative
Most parents would be thrilled with the idea of children who are able to express their needs as young as possible. How do we help our babies develop their communication skills early when most of them only start talking around 18 months?
Most parents would be thrilled with the idea of children who are able to express their needs as young as possible. This would reduce the guesswork necessary for us to pacify and satisfy our tiny little humans, and would mean less frustration for everyone in the long run. So the question begs to be asked: How do we help our babies develop their communication skills early when most of them only start talking around 18 months?
Some say it all begins in the womb. If you had “conversations” with your unborn child, he would take less time needed to get accustomed to your voice once he is born, and would instead, refocus his energy towards trying to understand what you are saying. This all means that his progress would be slightly faster than the usual infant which had not been exposed often to his parents’ voices.
I recall fondly of the times when my unborn son would swim vigorously within me during the times when I would be trying to get some sleep. We would often read a short story to him, and then his father would stroke my swollen belly and coax him to lay still and allow me to sleep. The boy would always quieten down after that.
Showing them how you feel
Studies have shown that “visual language” – as in our facial expressions, the way our mouths move and body language – are a very important factor for babies to pick up speech and language. Although most babies would not be able to speak until they are about 18-months-old, they would certainly be able to use their facial expressions to express how they feel. To assist them in being strong in “visual language” before they can speak, you can illustrate what you say with appropriate visual cues.
If you say “yes”, nod your head as you say it. When you say “no”, shake your head at the same time. They will slowly learn to association these simple head movements to the word – and the meaning behind it – and be able to answer simple questions before they turn a year old.
Enlisting communicative aids
If the idea sounds appealing to you, you may even choose to teach your baby to sign. Baby signing materials such as books, flash cards and videos are readily available in bookstores and can help your child communicate their basic needs to you via hand signs.
It is important to note, however, that not all babies respond well to picking up sign language. Some are simply not interested, while others are keen on learning and start to use the signs fairly quickly. Some babies will somewhat restrict themselves to only learning and using a few signs that they find “useful”, such as the signs for “milk”, “eat” and “hug”. But nonetheless, that means less frustration for everyone as they can now easily tell you when they want something in particular!
Going for the long haul
The key to encouraging your baby to communicate early is by allowing them to “speak”. Creating opportunities for them to respond to you would motivate them to pick up communication skills sooner. For example: Asking simple questions that require yes and no answers would prompt them to master nodding and shaking their heads.
You should also be consistent when talking to your baby so as not to confuse the little one. Until they can fully understand language and its subtleties, it is best not to tease them or use oxymorons. It would confuse them greatly as to whether something is actually “nice” if you use the term in a sarcastic manner. Remaining consistent with what you say will enforce the same message to your child and allow them to pick it up faster through repetition.
Patience will pay off
If your best efforts have not paid off yet, do not worry. Your child will incorporate all that you have taught them once they are ready. If you are speaking at least two languages to your child, it would take them a little bit longer to catch up on everything, due to a slight “information overload”. Meanwhile, don’t stop talking to your little one as the more you speak to your child, the more they will learn from you. So keep on talking!
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