Friday, July 07, 2006

Day 137 - Raising a Smarter Baby Part 3 - Vocal Skills

Part 3 of the Raising a Smarter Baby series

Today's Tip - Talk to and with your baby to encourage vocal chord development

Even if your baby seems shy and quiet, developing his vocal chords is extremely important early on. From the beginning, the only way they can communicate with you is by crying (guess what...they're using their vocal chords already). Encouraging them to communicate and responding to what they are trying to tell you is important to making them feel secure.

Eye Contact and Response
As early as two months, your baby will start to coo and respond to the sound of your voice. If you make eye contact and imitate the sounds they make back at them, it opens up the very first lines of social communication between you and your baby. You're baby will understand that you are listening to them if you look in their eyes, and making sounds back and forth to each other will become a fun game.

Vowels and Consonants
Baby's usually move from vowel sounds to vowel consonant sounds like ahh-goo. In addition to imitating their sounds, talk and sing as much as possible with your baby. They'll hear all sorts of different sounds and will try more and more to imitate you and communicate with you.

Using language to get a response
Around five months or so, your baby might begin to understand that the sounds he makes can be used to get what he wants - your attention. He may babble or making constant sounds until you pay attention to him. Then, he'll laugh or smile and start cooing and making vowel-consonant sounds. Which of course, you should make back during these 'chatty' times. He'll also let you know when he just wants to rest or has no interest in talking too, by looking away or crying out. Our son loves to talk to us in the car, mostly when he's letting us know he's hungry. He makes a "oooh-ooh-ooh" sound over and over until we stop and give him some milk.

Give him a chance to say his piece
As your baby's language skills progress, its important that you pay attention to the way you talk to him. Don't just talk "at" him. Ask questions, talk as if you were having a conversation. Give him natural breaks in the conversation to respond, and talk back when he does. Say his name a lot, and say the name of objects as you hold them up in front of him. Make reading an interactive activity. Ask him questions, point out pictures and let him grab at the pages or talk to you.

Getting a response out of him
By the time your baby is nine months old he might be saying simple words like mama and dada. Play lots of games where you can interact, especially singing games. He just might be able to respond to small, simple sentences that also have some type of physical action associated with them, like "grab the ball."

Actual Words
By a year old, your baby can probably say other simple words, like "hi" or "dog." Now, more than ever, its important to identify everything around him. He'll start picking up words like wildfire. Keep using his name as much as you can and always listen and respond to your baby when he tries to talk to you. Let him finish his sentences, don't rush in to help him out. Make reading a daily activity.

Part 4 Tomorrow - Developing Social Skills

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