[Womb into toddlerhood…] Listening to your baby is very important. We ‘listen’ to them whilst they are still in the womb – noticing what they are up to and wondering about them. Studies have shown that it really helps a baby to grow well if we are keeping them in our ‘conscious’ thoughts.
Don’t wait to start listening once they are born! Whilst it may seem a long time before they will be able to talk, they are unknowingly communicating to you from the very first scream.
Some of the ways a newborn might communicate to you are:
- looking towards you – they are noticing you either through smell, sound, vision or just by touch. You can communicate back by talking, getting into their sight or by touching or holding them. Touch is so important in growing a baby and helping them to form good attachments that it may not be enough to simply talk to them from a distance or be in their line of sight. They may need to be in your arms (yes for the 14th hour that day…!).
- vocalising – through goos/gaas or snuffles or crying. Any use of the vocal cords is certainly meaning one thing, ‘I have something to say’!
- rooting around for some milk – either on you or someone else. Obviously one action to take here!
- smiling – once they do, you know they really are starting to communicate. See post A Smile is Just the Beginning
The more responsive you are to your baby, the quicker you are teaching their brain what communication is all about – ‘you communicate through some form, I will be listening and respond’.
Although they might be in your arms, a baby may still cry or even scream. As long as you are there to say ‘I’m here, you can let it all out now’ (and trying to work out what might be wrong at the same time – nappy, milk, bed etc), you are doing the best thing for your baby. See post Is It Okay to Ssshh Your Baby?
The listening keeps continuing once your baby becomes older. Don’t forget to ‘listen’ to their actions as before they can talk, this is all that they have. Teaching your baby a few signs is also a great way to help them to become excellent communicators and will fill in the gaps whilst they are getting their mouth around words! See post
When you are listening to someone, you don’t ignore them. This goes with your little one. By the time they are a toddler and attempting to communicate (through actions or words), always give your best shot to understand them. And don’t ignore anything! For example, your toddler might be pointing at some food on the bench, right before dinner. Tell them ‘no crackers, wait for dinner’ (signing ‘no’ and ‘wait’ can be useful to help them understand) and then distract! It could be easy to ignore them or pretend you didn’t understand but it doesn’t help them to learn or teach them that you are interested in their attempts at communicating. At least they know they are being understood! AND they are learning at the same time (why they can’t eat crackers right now).
It could be easy to ignore the toddler trying to point to the swings outside on a rainy day, or you could say ‘swings? no swings…raining’ and then distract!!
What did your baby communicate to you today?
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