How can I start communicating with my baby right now?
Parents of young babies are experts at communicating with their babies long before their babies learn to talk or to understand what their parents are saying to them! All of us have seen parents making funny faces for their babies. When a father makes a silly face for his baby, at first the baby might look surprised, but then will break into a wide smile, or giggle and wiggle his or her arms or legs. In the same way, communication also happens when a mother rocks her baby after a feeding, holds the baby close and gazes into her little one’s eyes.
Communication can include touch (such as rocking and holding your baby), vision (facial expressions, eye contact), gestures, and sound. Extending your arms to your infant shows that you are about to pick him or her up. Other ways of communicating include smiling, laughing, hugging, kissing, and letting your baby keep you in sight. Your physical and visual contact with your baby tells him or her that you are there and everything is safe.
Many babies with hearing loss have some hearing (residual hearing) and can partially hear voices, especially if the person talking is very close. So try speaking to your baby while holding him or her close. But don’t shout. Simply talk the same way you would talk to other babies. Your baby might be very interested in looking at faces and will begin to understand that your face and mouth are sending important messages. So make sure that you often talk to your baby when he or she is able to see your face.
Some things to remember when communicating with your baby:
- Hold your baby close so that he or she can focus on your face.
- Position your baby so that you are often within sight.
- Try to minimize background noises so that your child can use the hearing he or she has to the best of his or her ability.
- Use good lighting. Be sure that the room is not too dark or the lights too bright. You don’t want your baby to be squinting into the light.
- Make eye contact often.
- Imitate the movements and sounds your baby makes, then wait for him or her to repeat them.
- Work on communicating with your child during activities that you both enjoy.
- Take time to communicate with your child many times throughout the day.
- Give you and your child some quiet time. If your child becomes fussy, he or she may be overwhelmed by all of the communication!
- And most importantly, ENJOY the time you and your child spend together.
These are some suggestions for you while you are exploring and beginning to build communication and language for your baby. Please, talk with your baby’s health care professionals for more communication ideas.