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Talking to your Baby                                                

One of the mistakes that new mothers make is that they stay at home all day. After consulting your pediatrician, you should move out. Taking the baby out helps you, as well as the baby.

After you finish the tasks of getting the baby dressed, fed and diapered, you should be ready to push the stroller, which is a good exercise for you and enjoyable for the baby. Even a 10 minute outing would be good for both of you.

0 to Four Months

Your child’s first communication with you is the birth cry when he herald’s his arrival into your world. From then on, he continues to communicate with you in a myriad of different ways. Initially, all cries sound the same. You are left wondering whether it is a hunger cry or a wet cloth nappy, but not for long. By two months, he has a special cry for hunger and even for pleasure. Three months of age is when you truly begin to enjoy your baby. He begins to smile! By four, he will often laugh during play.

The Fifth and Sixth Month

What can you expect

This period heralds the beginning of a  delightful journey in the development of your child’s communication skills. The baby whose primary concern till now was to eat, sleep and relieve himself will now begin to recognize his own name. He will even look around to see where you are calling him from. Look at him sternly and he knows, he is doing something you do not approve of. Smile at his antics and he knows you are happy. He begins to recognize words like “daddy”, “mama”, “bye”. A little later, he will even respond to words like “come”,  “up”, etc. You will be happy to see your baby enjoying music. He will suddenly stop crying or clap his hands gleefully when he hears his favorite music.

Although no words are being spoken yet, the building blocks are being laid now. As your baby explores his vocal apparatus, catch him cooing at you. Delay his feed time and watch the baby expressing his displeasure! After a bath or a feed, catch him babbling to himself in pleasure. The baby will also babble back at you, may even say an occasional mama or dada. But hold on. Do not reach for that baby album yet, this is not your baby’s first word as the baby does not yet equate those sounds with you.

Did you know that the babbling stage is universal to languages across the  world?

Whether you speak English, Hindi or Tamil, your baby will produce the same sounds at this stage. If you wish to teach him more languages, it’s a good idea to expose him to these early on. Gradually, the brain’s ability to perceive what it does not “hear” regularly diminishes. This is why babies pick up languages faster than adults. The cooing that begins in the fourth month gradually develops into babbling. The sheer pleasure of hearing his  own voice encourages the baby to babble more.

The Seventh and Eighth Month

Your baby’s listening continues to develop. Remember you need to be patient. There is a lot of development both in the baby’s brain and his speaking apparatus before he rewards you with his first word.

What can you expect in this period

* Call his name when he is engrossed in play and watch him stop to listen.
* He will even recognize names of common objects like ball, mummum.. for food or fan, light, etc.
* Enjoy playing peek-a-boo with him.
Occasionally, he may even sing along with some familiar song without using true words.
* He may open and shut his hand when he wants something.

The Ninth and Tenth Month

Your baby is now moving fast towards his first word. Some early talkers may even say mama/papa. So, this is the time to keep those baby albums ready. If he does not speak do not despair yet, your baby still has time. Some babies begin speaking only in their 14th or 15th month.

Is everything alright?

Things are fine if your baby’s understanding is progressing well. Research  indicates that the early gestures used by your baby is a sign that things are fine. If your baby is using gestures to communicate, responds to environmental sounds and can demonstrate understanding as discussed earlier, you can relax.

What to expect

Baby’s understanding vocabulary continues to grow.
He will begin to point at things he wants. He will wave bye when you are off to work and raise his hands to be picked up when you return. He may even begin to nod yes or no, in response to a question like, Do you want food now? When a baby cannot hear well, he is likely to babble less or not at all. This is a warning sign warranting an audiological (hearing) check up.

The Eleventh and Twelfth Month

By now, some babies are saying 2 to 3 words. Baby is also producing speech like jargon.

What to expect

* Understands simple commands like give, come, take, look, etc.
* Listens to speech for longer periods of time.
* Talks to toys and people throughout the day.

Your role in this period

When your baby babbles at you, babble right back, he will know you enjoy it.
Use a lot of gestures and animation on your face. Be rewarded with huge smiles as you help him along this prominent language milestone.
As much as possible, face him when talking and look at him in the eye.
He will enjoy environmental sounds like the telephone and various rattles. Show him these and watch how early sound discrimination skills begin to emerge.
Reinforce your baby’s commun-ication attempts by imitating his vocalizations. When he says “coo goo”, say “coo goo” right back at him.
Keep talking while you are doing activities like bathing / feeding him, shopping, etc.
Rhymes are fun ways of building up language and listening skills.







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