Don’t we all like to talk to someone that is looking at us and not absorbed in some other activity? Well, babies are no different. They love it when we look right at them, repeat what they are saying and give them our full attention.
Research shows that babies prefer faces and talk more to a face–including a doll–like little Caroline who is fascinated with Emily the doll. Make sure your baby toys have bright, distinct faces whether they are a boy, girl, banana or “whoozit.” Recently Lamaze redesigned their plush baby set of animals, “Pupsqueek,” “”Jacques the Peacock,” “Stretch the Giraffe,” and “Mortimer the Moose,” to name a few, so their eyes and facial features are bigger for baby to see and react to.
Hold the toy in front of your baby and talk for it. Engage in a dialogue with your baby, pausing for her to fill in with her coos and goos. You are having your first conversations! Be sure to pause after her little sounds and then imitate what she said. Research was done that looked at 5 month-old babies when parents paused before repeating their child’s sounds. The frequency with which mothers responded to their babies’ attempts to engage them, correlated strongly with the baby’s attention span, ability at symbolic play and understanding or words several months later.
Every time you have a conversation with your baby, you are encouraging language development. Babies are hard-wired to learn language, but they need to hear it to begin making their scientific analysis of it and eventually speak in words. You are their first and best teacher!