1. Create a calm listening environment for your baby. Your baby has suddenly landed in this great big, noisy world. For many babies, this can be over-stimulating and confusing. Eliminate as much unnecessary noise in your home as you can, and you may have a happier baby. This also allows your baby to hear the most important sound--the sound of Mom or Dad's voice. He can hear you reading a book or singing a song. It allows you to hear your baby's little noises that will become different cries you will soon recognize. When your baby cries one way, you'll soon know he's hungry. When he cries another way, you'll know he needs a diaper change. And when he cries yet a different way, you'll know he needs your hugs and kisses.
2. Position your baby face-to-face. Try doing this as much as you can throughout the day, so you can watch and learn about her, and she can watch and learn about you. It gives your baby an important feeling of security, knowing and seeing that you are near. From her bouncer, she watches you pick up the toys. From her highchair, she watches you fix dinner. And from her floor mat, she sees you fold clothes and she plays peek-a-boo with the washcloth you gave her. Always talk to her about what you are doing.
3. Listen to your baby and respond. Do you know how good you feel when someone listens to you and acknowledges that he or she heard you and responds? It's very validating, isn't it? That's what we want you to do for your baby. If your baby coos or goos, go to your baby when you can, and respond by cooing and gooing back. Let your baby know you hear him, "I hear you, buddy. Are you talking to Daddy? I like to hear you talk." Or "I hear you crying. It sounds like you're hungry. Daddy will feed you in just a minute." This kind of response is very important to build your baby's confidence and security. He learns you will help him out when he need you.
4. Talk to your baby about his things and actions. The best time to talk to your baby about his bottle is while you are warming it, shaking it, and feeding him. "Oh, I know you're hungry. Mommy will get your bottle. Mommy takes your bottle out of the fridge. Ooh! Your bottle is too cold. Mommy will make your bottle nice and warm." The best time to talk about water is while you are giving him a bath and gently splashing or pouring water on his little toes. "Mommy is pouring water on your little toes. Whee!"
5. Read, read, read to your baby. Make reading a part of your baby's daily routine now, and as your baby grows. Read at least 4-5 books a day to your baby. Look for clear illustrations, and don't worry about the story line for now. Name things in your baby's book as you point to the pictures. You can also talk about the pictures or make up your own story. Be sure to use expressive melody and tone in your voice. Make reading a routine at certain times of the day, like before naps and before bed, so your baby learns to anticipate this time.
6. Talk to your baby about what you and she are doing. This is like narrating your baby's day. You talk to your baby about what you are doing, whether it is cleaning, folding laundry, or changing her diaper. You also talk to your baby about what she is doing, whether it is kicking her legs, stretching her arms, kicking at a toy, or wrinkling up her little nose. This puts words to your actions, and your baby's actions. This should continue as your baby grows.
©Karen K Rossi, 2018. Learn To Talk Around The Clock®
A first kiss on the head, a warm hug, and loving words welcome a newborn baby. At that moment parents have the power to jumpstart their baby's brain development and set the course of their baby's life. These hugs and words are just as important the second day, the 50th day, and the 675th day of a child's life, so parents should continue these loving back and forth interactions every day during their routines and activities. These powerful interactions not only bring joy and security, but they take advantage of the plasticity of the newborn's brain and move the baby toward reaching his or her full potential. I wonder how many parents realize the power they have, or how to use this power to help their baby develop. Do they understand how much their newborn baby can learn?
Many think that you don't have to do much with little babies. Just keep them warm, safe, fed, diapered, and happy in their cradles, or swings, and they will be fine. That is not exactly true. Yes, of course they must be safe and warm, fed, diapered and entertained, but also, the very best time to begin learning is from birth to three years old. Babies' brains are wired to accept a lot of meaningful information while they are cared for throughout the day. If babies are not held, cuddled, and talked to, some neurons will be lost forever due to the lack of stimulation that makes connections in the baby's brain. That is not to say that brain development cannot take place after the age of three, but the most effective and lasting time of brain development is in infancy. Listening, vocabulary development, and understanding what they see and hear, will not be learned as easily or successfully after the birth to three years. Extensive research supporting these facts is documented by many, including Betty Hart and Todd Risley (1995); Dr. Dana Suskind (2015) and Michael Gramling (2015), to name a few.
Babies born into poverty often lack active involvement in a variety of these daily routines accompanied by meaningful adult-child "conversations." These babies must experience these routines and hear accompanying talk to help them develop vocabulary and language that prepares them for success in school and life. This doesn't cost a dime. But to be fair, many parents have no idea how important the role this early language learning, affection, and conversation can play in changing their babies' lives.
We need to find a way to reach more parents so they know the power they have, beginning when they first hold their newborn babies. It is no longer just a "good idea," or "isn't that interesting?" It is a necessity if we want to save our children and save our schools!
Gramling, Michael (2015). The great disconnect in early childhood
education, what we know vs. what we do. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.
Hart, Betty and Risley, Todd R. (1995). Meaningful differences in the
everyday experience of young American children. Baltimore,
Maryland: Paul H Brookes Publishing.
Suskind, Dana (2015). Thirty million words, building a child's brain. Tune
in, talk more, take turns. New York, NY: Dutton--Penguin Random
©2018 Karen K Rossi, Ed.D., Learn To Talk Around The Clock®