The minute a child comes into the world, they begin learning to communicate. Their senses (touch, hearing, sight, smell, taste) are taking in the lights, sounds, and blurred images around them. As a parent it is our responsibility to help him or her learn what this information means and how to use it in order to be successful in life. At birth, children are already “hardwired” to learn language no matter what language are culture the child is born into. Here are some tips that you as a parent can do so as the help develop your child’s communication abilities.
You are your child’s first teacher. The best thing you can possible do for your child at birth is begin to develop the most precious bond one can have with any other human being. The first time you look at your son or daughter, you look into their eyes. You touch their nose and caress their cheeks and you begin talking to your son or daughter. Even though this little bundle of joy is sleeping after the ordeal of entering into this world, he or she recognizes their parent’s voice and begin to learn the touch of their mother or father. Your baby is beginning to learn non-verbal body language. The child will look at your eyes and mouth and listen to your voice to determine whether he or she feels safe. She is also communicating to you. Her cries varies and the parent will begin to discern if the child is hungry, needs to be changed or just want some cuddle time.
Your child has increased control of her gross and fine muscles. He or she may begin to support their heads independently and look past their parents face to take in the environment around them. They may be scooting on the floor or learning to crawl. They can hold objects in their hands and exploring these same objects in their mouth. Their voice and personality are emerging. Your child can do more than just cry. He or she can use various coos and inflections in their voices that parents will respond to and we natural bring the child into a conversation. Children will laugh during games of “Peek-a-boo” and move to music playing. They continue to watch your eyes, lips, and listen to the inflections you use in your voice. At this age, your child can detect happiness, fear, and anger in your voice. It is important that you talk about your daily routines with the child. If its bath time, begin naming items used to prepare the bath. Label body parts and making up simple games in order to engage your child in whatever activity that you are doing together. Introduce books, point and name items in the book. Your child may not be ready to repeat what you say; however, she is listening and storing all this information receptively.
Your child may have taken their first step by now and cruising around the house, however one of the biggest change you will notice is that your child is using babble/jargon. As the tongue, lips, and cheeks grow, your baby will begin to practice new ways to make “sounds”. In the previous months, she may have been using a combination of vowel sounds at various pitches and inflection. Now, you should be hearing distinct consonant sounds such as m, b, p, n. Your child’s first words are emerging, e.g. mama, dada. Now is the time to really talk about your child’s daily routine. Present 2 choices for lunch that gives your child the opportunity to be part of meal time. Your child is learning to use touch and calm vocalizations to get your attention if he/she want to “talk” to you. She is combining gestures with jargon and maybe a word or two. As she does that, repeat back the information she has given you, e.g. “want milk”, “eat cookie”, “go bye bye”. Face to face contact is very important now because your child is looking at your mouth to help him or her learn how to imitate the words you say. During the first year of life, your child is going to develop from a newborn who needs you to do everything for her to a walker/explorer learning to develop independence from you. This is a very dynamic and fast paced time in your child’s life. Be your child’s first teacher and enjoy the time you have. Don’t be so quick to expose her to technology. Technology has it place; however, the first year should be about establishing a solid communication foundation.