Communicating with Babies
Babies communicate from day one, how they develop their communication skills is up to us. Ideally, they will learn that we are listening to their little efforts, or they'll MAKE you listen by screaming and crying, or worse still they'll simply stop trying to get you to understand their needs.
If we see babies' movements, gestures and sounds as simply 'random' then we are often missing their early attempts at communicating. Take for example a baby rubbing their eyes, yes, it's a reflex to feeling tired but if we pick them up, give them a calming cuddle, put them to bed, or feed them to sleep it reinforces that they are 'being heard.' Just like the first time they flail their arm at Nana as she leaves and we all make a fuss at how baby said "bye bye." Or when we repeat back to baby "da da da, yes that's daddy!" Our reaction to our babies attempts at communication determines whether that connection in the brain is reinforced or not.
In this short video, you'll see how Hope (15 months) moves through communicating her needs. She uses action, sign language, eye contact, approximate words and sounds. She has a whole tool box of getting the world to work for her. But my role as mum is to NOTICE! In this video I was doing the dishes and had my phone videoing her to see what she was doing when I only had one eye on her. I was literally two meters away with my side to her. She got my attention and told me what she needed. She also tells me what she doesn't want. I respected that (eventually! Not ideal modeling there team sorry!) I offered her a solution then the big thing we often miss....I waited. Babies' brains need time to process what you're saying to them. They are learning a new language, give them time to translate. Then explain and feed in new language as you go.
Run a commentary on the day and whatever you're doing with them and include them in it with questions and comments and all those other cute and silly things we do when we know there's no other adults around! It is only through talking WITH your child that they will learn to talk with you. It is only through us noticing and responding to their attempts to communicate with us that they will be empowered communicators.