Learn to Interact with Your Baby
Even before your little one learns to speak, it is important to put time and effort into interacting with them. Doing so not only encourages the development of their communication and speech skills, but helps to foster an intimate bond between you and your child.
Speech and language skills in a child’s early years has been closely associated with future success in developing reading, writing, and interpersonal skills. Therefore, it is vital for parents to know and learn how to interact with their child even from the time of their birth.
Thankfully, interacting with your newborn is easy and comes as second nature to many parents. Nevertheless, here are some tips to help you along:
Talk, sing and read to your baby often
Starting from 1 to 3 months old, babies already love to hear their parent’s voice, so make sure to talk, sing and read to your baby often in a soft, gentle and loving tone. Talk as you're feeding, dressing, carrying, and bathing your baby. They will begin to associate these sounds of language with everyday objects and activities. Reading and singing to them also helps to stimulate the developing brain.
Be attentive, positive and encouraging
A baby’s early attempts to communicate typically involve cooing, crying, babbling and even facial expressions or gestures. Make sure to pay attention, and respond in a positive and encouraging way. You can do this by smiling, imitating their sounds and mirroring expressions and movements. It’s important to make eye contact and be responsive even if you do not understand them!
From around 4 to 7 months old, babies begin to realize that their “baby talk” has a impact of parents, and thus will begin to experiment with sounds and intonations as they watch for parents’ reactions.
After 8 to 12 months, your baby should be able to utter their first intelligible words. At this stage, make sure to smile and face your baby as you continue to repeat the words back to them clearly throughout the day, as this will help your baby’s brain to store the sound and meaning.
Play together with your baby
Playing with your baby is a great way to interact, teach them and have fun together. Give your baby interesting objects to touch and look at such as a mobile or rattle. Move them around from side to side so your baby will track it with their eyes, or let them hit or kick at it to help them learn cause and effect.
Make sure to keep an eye out for when your baby is in need of a break. Showing signs usually involve them turning their head away, arching their back, crying, closing their eyes or fussing.
Interacting with your infant in these ways is a great way to express your love, and provide your baby with a strong sense of companionship and intimacy as they grow and learn to communicate.
- Agnes Yoon