Mom is singing to Baby Zap while she dresses him. She then explains to Baby Zap that they will be going outside to see some flowers. She shows him the flowers in the garden, then gives him one to hold and smell, while she says "flower." Mom has also brought a photo album and together they look at pictures of the family. Mom and Baby Zap have done this before, and Baby Zap recognizes his Mom. Baby Zap says "mama" for the first time.
Babies are learning language long before they begin to speak. To help this learning, start talking, singing and reading to your child from the day he's born. As you or your partner feed, change, dress, soothe, bathe or play with him, just chat about what you're doing, as if you were having a conversation. When you can, look at and smile at your baby when you're talking to him, and be expressive and animated when you talk.
When your baby starts to make sounds to you, repeat them and add to them. For example, if your baby
says "ba-ba," you can make it into a word, like "bye-bye," and wave as you say it. As you and your baby go through the day, name things she reaches for, or point things out and talk about them. It's also a good idea to read lots of stories and rhymes, and to sing - it makes no difference whether you think you can sing or not: it's the 'sing-songy' sound she likes.
Babies learn through their senses: sight, sound, touch, taste and smell . While making sure your baby is safe, help him experience things through all his senses. Have pictures and mobiles to look at, bright colours and patterns on walls or bedding, toys that make noises, and simple, safe toys that she can handle and move all by herself. These can be made from materials around the house. You don't want to overstimulate your child, by giving her too much all at once, which can upset her, but she does need things to look at, listen to, touch and move. And always, your child needs your support and encouragement as she tries new things.
It's a good time for your baby to learn and experience new things when he's quiet and alert. Encourage your baby to take small steps toward new experiences, like holding a flower and feeling its different textures.
Babies like having things repeated, so looking at the same book over and over again, or doing the same activities again and again, are good ways for your infant to feel comfortable and secure, and to learn.
Babies and young children learn to pay attention when parents share their interests. When Mom looks at the flower or pictures too, baby is able to pay attention longer and gradually increase her ability to concentrate.
The most important building blocks for learning - of all kinds - are your child's self-confidence, ability to regulate emotions, and ability to get along with others. You can help him with all of these by making sure you meet his needs and give him a secure feeling of being loved.
Food for Thought:
- Everything I give my baby, she tries to put in her mouth. What can I give her that's safe?
- Should my baby be 'listening' to music? What kind?
- My baby doesn't seem to be interested in books except to rip them up. What do I do now?
- I can't sing very well. It makes me embarrassed even in front of my baby. How important is singing?