Thursday, May 26, 2011
Hearing & Play
Recently, my now 7-year-old daughter said, “Mom, you really can’t sing. You think you can, but you can’t.” Then she added, “But what I love about you is that you do it anyway.”
Rock it around your babies! Babies love to hear you sing. Use expression, use your fabulous range, and let it go! This is one way to work on language development, expression and show a baby—early—that being goofy can be a lot of fun. I happen to be a huge Barbara Streisand fan. It’s kind of mortifying; I’ll share some stories in the future. My girls were signing “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by the age of 18 months. I spared that tune for my boys.
Even from birth, babies are able to distinguish their own mother or father’s voice from the voice of others. Isn’t that incredible? From a young age, babies begin to localize sound and search for where sounds are coming from. For babies, hearing is a big part of communicating – learning all about what sounds mean, what sounds baby can make on her own, and what the cause & effect of different sounds is (“If I cry, I get fed!”).
Play with baby using a rattle to help him work on sound localization by shaking the rattle on either side of your baby’s head and letting him turn toward the sound. You can also do this by holding your baby between two people and taking turns talking to him. If you notice your baby not paying attention to sound, this is an important point to raise to your pediatrician.
Your baby is constantly listening to you, so be sure to do the same! Pay attention to your baby’s cries, coos, hisses and gurgles. She’s trying to tell you something! Mommies from cultures all over the world, speaking many different languages, will say the same: babies communicate using baby language. Some cries mean “I’m tired, mom!” while others mean, “I am uncomfortable, change me!" Our listening to our own baby’s sounds and responding in kind will reinforce the give and take of baby communication.
By about five months old, your baby will begin to recognize his own name. At this age, your baby will also be much more likely to stop crying when he is being spoken to, so talk to your baby often! Not long after, your baby will be intentionally experimenting with vocalizing sounds, connecting sounds with objects. He will be copying syllables and sound combinations that he hears. Respond to your baby's coos and gurgling with sounds of your own so that your baby will be encouraged to keep using his or her voice for expression. Through these exchanges, your infant hears the sounds of language and learns about conversation.