Human beings are social animals. In fact, communication has always been one of the most influential factors in human evolution, which can help people express their survival signals, basic needs, secret thoughts, and colorful feelings.
It’s no surprise that babies start acquiring language skills already in the womb, and soon after birth, they start to communicate their needs. From crying to banging their head, your baby's talk is rich and surprising. With time parents learn to understand their little one, and babies start to trust their caregivers. As a result, the emotional bond between parents and their little chatterbox becomes miraculous.
Babies love chattering - they love when their parents talk, smile, read, and gossip. From coos to simple words, your baby’s communication skills improve every single day. Parents can also encourage their baby’s speaking skills, which will improve their learning and social skills later in life. At the same time, normal language development is a broad concept, so never force your little one to do things they are not ready for yet. Soon or later, your baby will utter their first word and tell you how much they love you!
So, here are 15 tips that can help you communicate with your newborn and boost their language skills, and 5 things we always get wrong.
20 From Day One
Pregnancy is one of the most miraculous wonders women can experience. While your pregnant body is going through lots of magical transformations and physical challenges, the little one in your belly is already learning and preparing to greet the world outside.
Researchers have revealed that babies start learning already in the womb. Thus, do not hesitate and talk to your bundle of joy. Touch your belly, listen to music that helps you relax, and talk to your mini-me. You don't have to read psychological books to connect with your little one – hearing your voice is enough to help her learn and bond with you.
19 All The Small Things
It's not a secret that parenthood is challenging. New parents are way too busy and stressed - there’s so much to do, so much social pressure to endure, and so much to learn from the new member of the family.
However, it's our responsibility to not stop for a second and start paying attention to our little one. It’s not only basic needs babies try to communicate. In fact, newborns have to learn to trust you and bond with you. So, simply pay attention to your little one and talk, especially during those precious moments when your bundle of joy is wide awake and curious about their surroundings.
18 Show Them Your Smile
It’s not a secret that way before babies utter their first word, they are able to understand you and communicate their needs. Most of all, newborns are extremely sensitive and able to understand and mirror your emotions. Therefore, try to smile and show them affection.
In other words, always look at your baby and smile when they are trying to show or tell you something. Who knows? They might be trying to share an interesting secret about the fly on the window they’ve been staring at. Try to understand their facial expression and vocalize their feelings. Be emotionally responsive and loving. For moms struggling with depression, professional help is recommended.
17 Be Original – Copy Them!
Mirroring your baby’s emotions is helpful in order to help them develop a secure attachment style and foster their emotional intelligence. At the same time, imitating your baby’s gestures and sounds can help kids reflect on their own Self and surroundings. What’s more, according to webmd.com, by imitating, moms and dads can send an important message... All the things your baby is trying to communicate do matter!
So, simply imitate your baby – just listen, smile, vocalize, and repeat your baby’s words and sounds. Do not forget that non-verbal communication is a vital part of our lives, so mirror their gestures and encourage them to be tactile.
16 Go Goo-Goo With Them
There are so many things your little bundle of joy is trying to communicate. The world around them is full of exciting things: muddy puddles, toilet paper rolls, and old shoes! It takes quite a lot of time for parents and newborns to understand each other, but with time, baby talk becomes way too efficient.
From cooing to crying, listen to your baby and imitate the sounds they make. Most of all, have back-and-forth conversations to teach them adult talk. Also, as mentioned above, imitate gestures and be positive. Note that babies mirror their parents; so a warm voice will help your little one improve their social skills.
15 Be A Teacher
Talking to your little one is crucial for their cognitive and emotional development. According to webmd.com, babies love hearing your voice and communicating. In fact, newborns learn by imitating, so always talk to your little one. The more you talk, the faster they’ll acquire language and social skills. Be a loving teacher. Talk to your little one, explain how things work, and engage them in listening throughout the day.
Storytelling is a great way to keep your bundle of joy interested while learning. Developmental psychologists reveal that reading is also beneficial and can help newborns acquire speech and learning skills – it's never too early to start reading to your newborn.
14 Be A Loving Clown
Imitating gestures is also extremely beneficial. According to educatall.com, children love imitation games. Moms and dads can start playing with their kids at a very young age. Family members can start performing actions, such as brushing their teeth, and then, they can start involving other objects - feeding a doll, for example. Parents can become kids again and play with their own kids. Note that even diaper changes give you a chance to spend some time with your little one and encourage them to copy your facial expressions.
When it comes to imitation games, exaggerated expressions and a high-pitched voice can be very comforting and entertaining.
13 Respond To Your Little One
Communication is not a one-way street. When people communicate they send vital messages, everyday information, and emotional responses. We all want to be heard, right? Especially when we keep repeating "Do not touch", "Go to sleep", "Get down from there" or "No more TV"! Therefore, it’s logical to assume that kids also need to be acknowledged. As mentioned above, always respond to your little one and repeat the sweet sounds she or he makes.
Show interest in their world and their surroundings. In the end, there are so many new things your little one wants to explore and is about to learn about the world.
12 Train Your Facial Muscles
Listening is as important as talking. Train your facial muscles and repeat all the ma-ma and goo-goo noises your little one makes. At the same time, use real words and vocalize everything around you. Although in the beginning, your baby won’t understand everything you say, they can still learn from your voice. What’s more, your little bundle of joy can absorb your emotions easily.
According to webmd.com, moms and dads should narrate their everyday activities and talk while they’re feeding and bathing the baby. Parents should point to objects and talk, and soon, babies will start to associate objects with words and meanings.
11 Embrace Your Mommy Brain
Research shows that pregnancy brain is real. In fact, experts claim that mommy brain affects postpartum women as well. Note that a study showed that the majority of moms still feel sleepy - even 18 weeks after birth. On top of that, all the routines and sleepless nights might also affect women’s cognitive and emotional functioning.
Nevertheless, adult talk is also very important to help your little one acquire new language and learning skills. A study published in Psychological Science shows that baby talk and unclear sounds may confuse babies. Thus, do not forget to talk to your newborn as you talk to adults.
10 No More Words
There’s so much advice on the Internet - moms and dads get lost in the challenging journey called parenthood. Some adopt authoritarian parenting strategies; others try to be friends instead of parents. However, the best way parents can communicate with their kids is to show love and set boundaries all at the same time.
What’s more, sometimes kids do not need empty words but love and understanding. If your little one is distressed, try to hug and calm them down. There’s no need for empty words. Emotional support is extremely important for older kids and teens as well. So forget about nagging, warnings, and confusing messages.
9 Keep Eye Contact
Becoming a parent is one of the greatest experiences ever. So, never treat your child as property. Show your little one you respect their feelings instead. To acknowledge their messages, always establish eye contact. Do not look away or talk to other people while your baby is trying to communicate. What’s more, according to tinylove.com, eye contact can help parents and kids bond emotionally.
Note that establishing eye contact is one of the first milestones you’ll notice, between 6 and 8 weeks, which is a sign that your baby is interested in you and your world. And there’s so much love in your baby’s eyes!
8 Do Not Be Scared to Repeat
Your kid loves hearing your voice, so do not be scared to repeat words. As mentioned above, vocalize and narrate your everyday routines. Soon, your little one will begin to associate sounds with words and objects.
In fact, repetition is vital for child development. According to readingbrightstart.org, repetition provides the practice kids need to master new skills. Experts suggest giving everyday objects, such as spoons, instead of toys to babies in order for them to learn how things work. In toddlers, repetition supports brain development, so do not get impatient if your little one repeats everything you say or asks you about the rain a dozen times a day.
7 Understand Your Baby
When it comes to effective communication, moms and dads should know how babies learn to talk. According to webmd.com, between 1 and 3 months, babies start cooing and gurgling. After that, they slowly start to realize that their cries and noises have an impact on their surroundings; in fact, they might start changing the pitch of their voices. Between 8 and 12 months, your baby will start associating objects with objects and may utter their first mama or dada. Your baby will be able to respond to his or her name and simple instructions.
Most of all, in order to communicate effectively with their little one, parents should understand that language development is unique for each child.
6 Set Them Up With Social Support
Your baby’s social environment has also a crucial effect on their development. Positive social models can foster child development and speech acquisition. Since babies absorb their surroundings, interacting with grandparents, siblings, and friends can only benefit your baby’s language development. What’s more, nurseries are beneficial: interacting with teachers and other kids can support your baby’s social and language skills, as well as potty training.
Although kids learn a lot from social interactions, technology can also support child development. According to theconversation.com, children’s shows can be actually educational. Interactive shows can help kids learn new things and interact with the TV characters.
And 5 Mistakes We All Make
5 Count To 10
Babies and parents need some time before they build a relationship based on trust. You’ll need some time before you start guessing what your little one is trying to communicate. On the other hand, your little one will need affirmation that you can actually respond to their needs. This learning process can be exhausting and frustrating. On top of that, toddlers and older kids can become too noisy and needy.
Nevertheless, shouting won’t take you anywhere. Contrary to popular belief, if you yell at people, they won’t hear you better. Better count to 10 before you respond. If you want to show you are upset or angry, make sure you are firm and serious instead.
4 What Did You Say?
It’s not a secret that parenting is a learning process. We can’t judge parents, but there’s one mistake many individuals make: people rarely listen! Well, conversations must involve both listening and speaking, so try to be an active listener.
Never interrupt your baby or look away when they are trying to share something with you. As Roy Bennett said, "Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words." Soon, your little one will whisper "I love you"!
3 Be Persistent
Parenting can be confusing. Some parents want to control their kids. Others want to be friends and forget their primary responsibility: to provide safety and set boundaries. On top of that, it’s not a secret that there are parents out there who fight depression or substance use and are unable to provide the emotional stability their kids need. Often we can’t get parenting right!
In fact, according to psychologytoday.com, sending mixed signals can confuse newborns and kids and affect their emotional development later in life. Long and complicated messages can also be difficult to process. So next time, mama, you tell your little one to stop staring at their tablet, get off your phone first!
2 Hello Or Hola?
We are living in a diverse society, so we can’t escape from the topic of bilingualism. According to healthychildren.org, more than 20% of kids in the US speak a second language at home, with Spanish being the most common language. Nevertheless, there are many myths we can't escape from. One of the main misconceptions is that two languages can only confuse kids and lead to delays in their speech development.
Research shows quite the opposite: bilingual kids have the same developmental milestones and know how to separate both languages. On top of that, learning a second language can only help kids exceed academically.
1 Never Force Kids
It’s not a secret that moms today are competing with each other. In order to win, they often force their kids to acquire new skills. From dragging their little one to walk to forcing their newborn to use the potty, some moms don’t let their little one be a baby. It’s the same with talking: each child is unique and normal language development is a broad notion.
In case you are concerned about your baby’s speech skills or hearing, consult your doctor. But never force your baby to become who they are not. Because even if they can’t say it yet, they love you for who you are.
References: The Conversation, Healthy Children, Psychology Today, Reading Bright Start, Tiny Love, WebMD