It is never too early to start interacting with your infant. The first year of their life should be a time for bonding and growth.
Research has shown that infants who have more interaction in their lives are happier, more confident, and healthier than those that do not.
In this blog post, we will talk about why it’s essential to interact with infants.
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The Importance of Interacting With Babies
It’s most people’s natural response when they see a baby to ‘coo’ and to smile and to talk in that lovely high pitched voice we don’t even realise that we do!
Reassuringly, interaction with babies, even this subconscious reaction, is fantastic for their development and is highly encouraged.
We are all aware of the alarming rate that babies and young children change and develop over short periods, even daily!
So it’s not unusual to recognise that a large proportion of development is carried out in the first few years of a child’s life.
Interaction with babies helps them to learn about the world around them and to develop various skills. With very young babies, a vital interaction is skin-to-skin contact.
Not only does this help a baby to recognise their primary caregivers, but it also allows them to begin to feel comfortable with physical interaction. It can even have positive effects such as calming the baby.
This is a lovely interaction to hold with a baby, especially your child, as it enables one-on-one time with your baby and helps build and strengthen that everlasting bond.
One sign of respectful and responsive relationships is that children and caregivers have various meaningful interactions during their time together.
When you have meaningful interactions with infants and toddlers, you are:
- guiding; and
- comfortable following children’s lead.
The following are some ways to engage in meaningful interactions with the infants and toddlers in your care.
It is a typical response to talk to babies. Even though they cannot hold a verbal conversation, caregivers need to converse with babies or narrate their surroundings.
Talking to a baby helps to teach them early language skills. However, some adults may feel uncomfortable or ‘silly’ holding a conversation with a baby when it may feel like they are getting no response back.
But this is not true! Engaging a baby in conversation and holding eye contact all leads to responses from the baby.
These responses may not be apparent, but the faces a baby will make back to you, or their murmurs or giggles are all in reaction to your voice!
As well as the joy caregivers will feel from receiving smiles and babbles from a baby in response to their voice, the baby is learning early language skills and early social skills.
This positive interaction between babies and their caregivers leads to better social skills later in life and helps the baby learn about emotions and relationships.
Caregivers can develop these language and social skills through talking to their baby. These conversations do not need to make much sense; babies love the sound of a caregiver’s voice and engage in these interactions themselves.
Caregivers can narrate what is going on around the baby, talking them through what they are buying in a supermarket; for example, this all helps language skills and helps them become familiar with their surroundings and objects.
Don’t forget, communication and interactions don’t just have to be verbal! Caregivers can hold a conversation with babies simply by maintaining eye contact and pulling faces.
Babies will respond to these faces through babbles, giggles and facial expressions of their own!
Even though no speech is involved, this is still a conversation, and caregivers will be strengthening their bond with the child.
Interaction with babies and young children can involve play and toys too!
Play is a brilliant way for young children to explore their bodies and the world around them in a fun and exciting way.
Caregivers can pick colourful and tactile toys that stimulate the baby’s senses and hold interest in them.
As the baby gets older, their play will start to become more imaginative and more complex.
Through play and interaction, babies and young children can develop critical skills and qualities such as independence, creativity and problem-solving.
Caregivers interacting with babies, whether through verbal communication or playing with toys, don’t forget to praise the baby!
It is never too early to give praise, and the responses, which may seem small, are all in response to your interaction.
Praise will positively affect a baby’s emotional development, and recognition from caregivers will encourage the baby to respond more and more as they will enjoy the positive response they receive.
Talking With Babies and Toddlers: Why More Talk Is Better
Talking with your baby or toddler can help his language and communication development. The more you speak with your baby or toddler, the better.
This is because parents who talk a lot to their young children use many different sounds and words.
When children hear more words and lots of different dishes, it improves their understanding of language. It also increases the number and variety of words that they understand and use.
And it’s not just about better language skills. Talking with babies helps their brains develop and can help children do better at school when they’re older.
Brain Development Through Conversation
Babies’ brains form long before birth, but the stimulus after birth truly shapes who they are.
From the time children are born to the age of three, their brains increase to three times their birth size.
This development occurs as the result of interacting Interactive Baby with the world around them. This interaction mainly includes parents and other loved ones speaking with them.
The benefits are undeniable. Did you know that third-graders whose parents spoke to them often as babies did better on reading readiness tests? They also possessed larger vocabularies.
In addition to these great benefits, babies created stronger inter-brain connections as they heard more words AND were likely to have more vital language skills when they were older.
What Kind of Talking Is Good for Babies and Toddlers?
Talking with babies and toddlers doesn’t have to be a big deal. You can speak to your child about hanging out the washing, preparing meals or whatever is happening around you.
For example, you’re outside with your child, and she points to a tree. You could say, ‘It’s a great big enormous tree. I wonder what kind of animals live in that tree? Maybe a possum?’
How Much Is Talking Good for Babies and Toddlers?
Any talking is suitable for your baby or toddler, so try to speak as much as you can during the day. You don’t need to make a particular time for talking.
Babies and toddlers like quiet times too, so if your child stops responding to you and starts to look tired, restless or grumpy, you might like to choose another time in the day to talk.
Your child’s temperament might also affect how often he wants to communicate with you. Some babies and toddlers are naturally more outgoing, and others are quieter.
When to Start Talking With Babies?
It’s great to start talking with your baby as early as you can. In fact, from birth, your baby absorbs a tremendous amount of information about words and talking, just from listening and watching you speak.
Conversations with your baby might feel one-sided, to begin with. But even though your young baby doesn’t have words yet, she’ll be listening to you, and she’ll try to join the conversation!
She’ll use crying, eye contact and listening to communicate. Later on, she’ll coo, smile, laugh, make more sounds and move her body to share with you.
If you pay attention to your child when you’re talking, you’ll notice this early baby talking and communication.
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Tips for Talking With Babies and Toddlers
You might feel silly having conversations with a baby or a toddler who’s not talking much, but keep at it!
Conversations and activities that include some of the ideas below are suitable for developing your child’s language skills.
Taking a moment each day to think about how your communication and behaviour affect the infants, toddlers, and adults you interact with is a powerful way to develop your awareness and responsiveness. Think about how your interactions might affect your relationships.
For example, how do your tone of voice, facial expressions, and body posture communicate messages to the people around you?
Tune Into Your Child
Reduce distractions. Turn off the TV or computer or do whatever helps you ‘be present to talk to your child.
Notice what your child is interested in, ask a question or make a comment, and then give your child time to respond.
For example, at bath time, you could say, ‘Is that Ducky? Ducky’s swimming. Splash!’
As your toddler learns to talk, give him time to find words for his ideas and listen when he talks.
For example, try not to finish his sentences for him, and make sure he’s finished before you talk. This sends the message that what your child has to say matters.
Use natural pauses. Your child will eventually fill in these pauses when her language develops. This also teaches her ‘give and take’ in a conversation.
Talk to your child about things he’s interested in – for example, what grandpa might be doing today, a story you’ve read together, or something that’s happening outside.
Talk about an experience you shared – for example, ‘It’s sunny today. But remember how wet we got on the way home yesterday? Your socks were soaked!’
Use lots of expressions to make your conversation exciting and engaging. What you talk about doesn’t matter as much as how you talk about it.
If you use complex words, explain them and build on them by using lots of descriptive words.
For example, ‘We’re going to see the paediatrician – that’s a particular doctor who knows all about babies and children.
Read, Tell Stories, Sing Songs and Make Rhymes
Read books and tell stories to your baby from birth, every day if you can.
After a few weeks, your baby will know that this is when you enjoy a quiet, particular time together.
Talk about the pictures in books, wonder out loud what might happen next in the story, point out words and letters, and let your child touch and hold the book and turn the pages.
You can make up your own stories to go with the pictures in the book.
Help your child learn that books and reading are fun.
You can do this by having a particular reading spot, making cuddles part of reading time and letting your child choose some books – even if you have to read the same ones over and over again!
Sing songs and rhymes in the car, in the bath, at bedtime – even if it’s off-key. Your baby will love the rhythm of the words and will be soothed by your voice.
When Do I Start?
The first question you’re probably asking yourself is, when do I start? The answer is simple—as soon as possible.
Babies can begin to hear noises in the womb at 18 weeks and react to voices and other sounds in the uterus by about 25 weeks.
So, starting before birth is excellent for both you and your baby.
The bottom line is that talking to your baby in the womb is beneficial for the baby and creates a vital habit for you.
The Baby Arrives—interaction Begins.
The exciting day has come, and your bundle of joy has arrived. Now that you’ve met face to face, you can also begin to communicate and interact in a completely new way.
Talk to your baby while maintaining eye contact. Babies respond better when they make eye contact.
What Should I Say?
In the Beginning
You might feel unsure of yourself or be uncertain about what to say. Don’t worry. Just talk to your baby like you’d talk to anyone else.
As you change a diaper or give a bath, tell your baby what you’re doing. Sit him or her in the kitchen as you prepare dinner and provide a play by play.
Just talk. Read books aloud and name the food items as you shop at the grocery store.
Your baby may not recognisably interact with you just yet, but before you know it, you’ll be having full-fledged conversations.
As Your Child Grows
Your baby is growing up quickly, and soon, you’ll begin to notice your child doing a lot more than making eye contact when you speak.
As he or she answers you in various ways, such as gurgling, giggling, and speaking—both actual and made-up words—be sure you take turns.
What your baby has to say is important to them. It’ll also teach them how to take part in the conversation.
Tips on How to Keep the Conversation Going
With babies and younger children, play simple games like peekaboo and pat-a-cake. Take turns and make eye contact.
Use the fun time to strike up a conversation about what you’re both doing, parts of the body—whatever seems appropriate.
Music is another excellent way to foster speaking with your little one. Please turn on the music or go at it alone; singing words is as good as telling them.
Some parents think they have to put on children’s music, but that isn’t so. Utilise a variety of music you both like.
Just remember—explicit music is sure to lead to those words popping out when you don’t want them to, so choose your theme wisely.
Voice Your Daily Routine
As you go through your day, tell the baby what you’re doing. This will help you keep up the conversation, and they will learn plenty of new words.
When completing activities like a bath, use the time to name body parts and play. Saying things like “This is your nose, and these are your toes” will expand your growing child’s vocabulary.
Perhaps you’ve never thought about why nursery rhymes exist.
These catchy little sayings are great ways to increase your speech time without trying to figure out what you’re going to say.
They’re catchy, simple, and use words you might not incorporate into your daily speech.
They’re Never Too Young for Books
Reading is a great habit to develop, no matter what age your baby is. You can start reading to your baby the moment he or she is born.
Picture books are a brilliant way to start. These books give you images to describe and relationships to elaborate on.
You can discuss the details while showing the baby the pictures, giving you both a lot to talk about.
As your child grows, so should the books. Try to choose books your child responds to and seems interested in.
Keep in mind; you can do a lot more than read the words. You can point out the pictures and converse about whatever this may bring up.
Ways to Show Interest
Now you have some ideas on how to strike up a conversation with your child, no matter what age he or she may be.
You should also know that showing interest is imperative to aid in your child’s development.
They should feel that you value communicating with them and that you enjoy the time together as much as they do.
There are plenty of ways to show your child that he or she has your attention. Begin by turning off the TV and putting away the electronic devices.
Now, get down on their level and start talking! Dedicate this time to your child, and don’t let interruptions get in the way.
Consequences of Not Talking to Your Baby
Perhaps you’re wondering what happens if you don’t talk to your baby. For starters, babies will learn to speak more slowly than if you did speak to them.
Not speaking with your children means their vocabularies will be smaller.
Not conversing with your children also means that you’re spending less time paying attention to and interacting with them.
When that happens, it can be challenging to develop a strong bond with your baby.
Perhaps the most significant consequence is the effect it could have on your child’s habits. Reading books, playing games, and talking helps him or her to create lifelong habits.
Starting these early means, they’re more likely to stick. Not doing them at all can mean the habits may never develop.
Particularly, reading to your children early will help create a love of books that will be a vital interest throughout their life.
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