Today’s New York Times includes the article, “From Birth, Engage Your Child With Talk” by Jane Brody. The author has observed what we are all seeing–too many moms and nannies stolling their babies while distracted on their cell phones and BlackBerrys. Too many caregivers are missing the opportunity to label the world in their walk around the block.
This summer I strolled my 1 1/2 year-old grandson around the block and kept pointing out “treasures” for us to collect in his cup holder. When he found the walk a little too long to be sitting, I picket up the pace and started to collect acorns, huge leaves, sticks and bugs. I kept up my verbal entertainment to keep him distracted until I heard him say, “treasures!” That was a new word for him. Every treasure I named and declared while giving it to him had helped him learn a new word.
The author does a good job of pointing out the importance of talking a lot to your baby, labeling their world and inputting language related to their experience. I often tell parents to give a running commentary about what they are doing and what their baby is experiencing. A baby who can’t talk yet, can begin to hear and discern sounds and understand words. All of your talking to your baby with focused attention and eye contact promotes language development.
Many good points are made in the article such as:
- don’t use baby words and baby talk but talk to your baby like an adult
- repeat what sounds your baby makes as you begin to carry on a conversation of coos and goos
- Repeat familiar songs and rhymes that your baby will begin to memorize and be able to join in with you as they get older
- Read, read, read from birth. Babies are listening to the rhythm of language and actually hearing tiny differences between languages as they hear your sentences.