The communication with your baby is an important aspect in early development: it encourages speech and language skills which are linked to successful reading, writing and social competencies, which will help your child all throughout her or his life.
Here are some insights on the amazing journey of communicating with your baby or toddler.
The importance of baby sign language
Joseph Garcia, a child development expert, was amazed to see how easy was for babies that could hear to learn the sign language used by their deaf parents. So he thought that also hearing parents, with hearing babies, can benefit from the advantages of sign language.
What advantages? Let’s see...
Sign language improves the communication with your baby. As Garcia indicated, signing helps enhance the language of your baby, it doesn’t replace it. When you teach your baby signing, you do it by indicating the object you are referring to with signs and you also state out loud the name of that object. This means you get to communicate more and in three ways with your baby: sign, point, speak. As soon as your baby starts to sign, you can increase her or his confidence in this new ability, by confirming with words that you understand what she or he just told you through signs.
Baby sign language also helps develop a closer bond between you and your baby: you can still understand one another even if you are in opposite sides of the room (sign instead of talk loud, for example) and you can share a kind of “mystery language”, as not all the parents are able to understand their babies without actually speaking.
Last but not least, the sign language may help your baby in the latter years, when he or she might bond with persons who use signing as their only possible language.
Other tools you can use to communicate with your baby, without actually talking are signals and cues, smiles and games, other facial expressions or laughers.
Key elements of baby communication
Before speaking, babies can understand a lot of the things you are saying. They pay attention to your tone while you speak, to your facial expressions and also to the gestures you are making.
This means that even without clear words spoken, you and your baby can find ways to communicate.
First, smile. Like, a lot :) If you smile often, not only your child will receive a confirmation that your “talking” is a pleasant moment, but you get the chance to grow a smiling kid who later might become an optimistic adult.
Maintaining visual contact while you speak to your baby - there is short story saying that once a toddler was speaking to his mother while she was doing some cleaning in the kitchen. The boy was hanging from his mother’s skirt, following her everywhere and asking all kinds of questions, over and over again. His mother would reply with short sentences, being preoccupied by something else. At one point, he stopped talking, but continued to follow his mother. Few minutes later, his mother realized the boy wasn’t asking questions anymore. She stopped from what she was doing and looked down at her son. The boy’s eyes were in tears. His mother asked what happened. The boy replied: “ma’, please speak to me with your eyes”. Guess that says a lot about the importance of visual contactJ
Be patient – it might take you several tries until you understand what your baby is trying to tell you. Don’t give up, just pay attention to each of your baby’s attempts to “talk” to you.
Be present – this means you have to manifest an active presence: make sure you observe and encourage each progress – either small or significant – of your baby.
Speak to your baby – like, a lot :) Read to her or him, narrate your activities together (taking a bath, changing the diaper, going to sleep), all of this in a smooth and calm tone. The baby loves to hear your voice, all the time.
How babies talk
Parents often wonder how babies begin to talk and if their speech ability is in the “regular” time-frame of baby talking.
The baby starts to talk during the first two years of life: she or he begins to use their palate, tongue and lips, alongside any teeth she or he might have, in creating sounds. Talking means cries at first, short “aaah” or “ooh” and baby babbling, soon after that.
The “regular” time-frame isn’t actually that “regular”: some babies can say several words by the time they are 12 months old, while others remain less communicative by their 18 months and only after this age start to say brief sentences.
Between 1 and 3 months, your baby’s vocabulary means plenty of gurgling and cooing, and a surprising “ooh” the baby will say when he or she is around 2 months old.
This is a perfect time to start reading to your baby, as this activity stimulates brain’s development. It is also a good period to play music for the baby with the help of an electronic device or with your own voice. Music will enable the babies to recognize simple words in songs and you will see this in their reactions: arms and legs waving, gurgles and, of course, lots of smiles :)
Between 4 and 7 months, your baby starts to realize that “talking” produces an instant effect on you and she or he will experiment with more intonations and sounds and watch for your reactions when doing so. The baby will raise and lower the tone of his or her voice, just like in adult’s conversations, putting cute emphasis on their babbling. The baby’s “mama” or “dada” might bring a happiness tear to your eyes around the age of 6 months or later. In this stage, you can show your baby objects with short names, like “ball” or “spoon”. This method of naming and showing simple items will promote an early speech development and will also help your baby understanding the language.
Between 8 and 12 months, the baby will babble and vocalize and this will sound as he or she is making sense. The “ga-ga” or “ba-ba” your baby is saying contains patterns and tones similar to the ones used by grown-ups. Talking and reading to your baby is also indicated in this stage of development.
Repeating simple and clear words will enable your child to store in his or her developing brain the meaning and sounds of everyday objects. Language through singing is also one of baby’s favorite, so make sure he or she hears simple nursery songs every day.
After 12 months, the child uses one or more words, knows their meaning, will practice voice inflection, indicating when he or she wants something. The baby starts to realize the importance of language as a mean to communicate her or his needs and enjoys every minute of this newly acquired ability.
Between 19 and 24 months, the child understands a lot more words than can actually say. Basic sentences also may appear now, such as “carry me”.
The child might start singing simple songs and even use two or four words sentences. Although not a grammar literate, your child will definitely find ways to show you what she or he needs, feels or thinks so make the most of this amazing period that you two share.
How to understand the babies’ language
All parents wish they could understand after birth what their babies are saying. This would help them answer their babies’ needs, would cause them less anxiety about the babies’ crying and would give them a deeper sense of bonding with their newborn.
In the first three months of life, each baby has five “words” to transmit their needs. At least this is what Priscilla Dunstan, a mom from Sydney, Australia, believes. She started deciphering the cries of her son, Tomas, and then she spent several years with babies from around the world in order to establish if there was a pattern in the way they cried. The conclusion of this extended study was that babies everywhere are making the same sounds, as a way to communicate their needs.
Priscilla indicates that babies use five “words” which state the following needs or problems: hunger, fatigue, need to release gas, need to burp and lack of comfort.
The same mom says these words are used, in general, by babies, by the age of three months, but if the parents respond to the babies’ needs, this “language” can continue consciously until the baby is one year old.
Another way to understand the babies’ language is to pay attention to the gestures they are starting to make – for example, at around seven months, the babies can raise their arms to signal they want to be picked up.
By the time he or she is nine months old, your baby will recognize and respond to his or her name.
Between 12 and 15 months, the baby can understand and respond to simple requests, such as “come here”, “stop” or “give it to me”.
So, arm yourself with plenty of patience, sharpen your senses and enjoy the magical journey you and your baby will make in the land of language and communicationJ
The importance of baby sleep
A vital element of babies’ well-being is the sleep.
In the womb, a baby spends between 16 and 20 hours per day being asleep, as a newborn, a baby sleeps around 16 -18 hours per day. The most important type of sleep is REM or rapid eye movement sleep, which generates an incredible brain activity. Half of the time a newborn spends sleeping is REM sleep, a percentage which decreases to 25% during adult life and to 10-15% during old age.
Doctors believe that babies’ brains are provided, during REM sleep, with a very important stimulation, since the first years of life represent a crucial period for neural development – hence for brain development. The non REM sleep provides the baby relaxation and regeneration, also crucial for proper development. Short duration of sleep before 3 and a half years, as well as fragmented sleep, are often associated by researchers with ADHD, inferior cognitive abilities and a weaken neurological development.
Researches show that consolidated and quality sleep ensures a proper growth to babies and toddlers. A child who sleeps around 10 to 12 hours per night wakes up well-rested, joyful and ready to embrace the daily experiences.
Use toddler sign language to teach manners
Sign language can be used also with toddlers who have started to master their first words to teach them manners.
Around 12 to 18 months, you can teach your toddler to say, through signs, “thank you” and “please”. To make the learning easier, make sure you place the words in a significant context – such as answering to one of his or her requests: before handing the cup of water the child asked for, show the “please” sign. Because children often pick up new gestures by imitating adults, you can ask your toddler for a toy, saying “please” and signing the word at the same time. Your child might not learn this manner immediately, but if you practice this with consistency, he or she will finally pick up this sign.
The same routine goes for the word “thank you”: say and sign the word after you have honored one of your toddler’s requests, and also after he or she has handed you an object you have asked for.
Although learning manners signs might not seem an easy task, here are some hints that can help you along the way:
- be patient, don’t expect instant results from your child;
- involve the other members of your family, when they spend time with your toddler, to use the manners signing;
- speak the words you are signing, each and every time, to help the toddler learn faster and also to develop his or her speech abilities.
Communication with your babies or toddlers is a complex and fascinating element of both your life and theirs.
As science has proved, newborns, babies and toddlers always find ways to express themselves, either verbally or through other tools, some of them described above. A powerful means of expression in today’s world today is represented also by the clothes a person wears. They can transmit a message, outline an attitude towards life or support a certain belief. Toddlers can observe one another in various contexts, such as daycare or kindergarten, park or play dates. They start to acknowledge the differences between them and other kids – color of hair, eyes or even way of dressing. Toddlers also develop preferences for certain pieces of clothing in their wardrobe and dislike others.
So it’s always a good idea to pay attention to the clothes you are buying for your toddler, as they serve for more than just keeping your toddler comfortable, they also make her or him feel at ease with themselves and the others.
If your toddler is a boy, you can delight both him and you with a cute stripped outfit consisting of T-shirt and pants, with a hooded set or with a fashion style set, containing a white T-shirt and jeans.
For more ideas on your toddler boy’s wardrobe, visit our collections for toddler boy.
As for toddler girl, the Family-Boutique collections also contain wonderful pieces of clothing that your girl will love: from sleeveless fashion style princess set to polka dot set or lovely pink top with jeans, you can find beautiful sets suited for every taste.
Click to find the perfect set for your toddler girl.