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  • Your Baby Loves Your Attention, But He Wants You to Talk to Him!

    Every conversation with your baby is a teaching moment.
    by Rachel Perez .
Your Baby Loves Your Attention, But He Wants You to Talk to Him!
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Some studies claim that kids learn to expand their vocabulary from their dads, but a mother's voice is still the most soothing sound for your newborn. It's one he recognizes the most because he heard it when he was still in the womb and now associates your voice with warmth and sustenance.

    Playing music is also great for babies, but they actually prefer human voice along with seeing your face as you talk to them, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). It may sound silly to talk to a baby who may not understand what you're saying, but your baby is learning a lot of things through your one-sided conversation (well, it's really not going to be one-sided for long). 

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    Talking to your baby helps build your child's brain

    Conversing with your baby while he's still in the womb stimulates his brain activity, and the same is true when you talk to him when he's in your arms. Several studies have linked a mother's voice to other cognitive skills other than speech and language development. 

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    "It’s almost magical how parental conversation appears to influence the biological growth of the brain," said John Gabrieli, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences.

    While your baby cannot respond to you at first, he will soon attempt to copy the sounds you make. 
    Don't overthink it. You can tell your baby a story or narrate what's happening or what you're doing to her, like when you're changing nappies, for example.

    Listening to you talk helps your baby learn about speech and language skills

    All parents worry about this crucial milestone in child development. Early speech and language skills are associated with success in developing reading, writing, and interpersonal skills, both in childhood and later in life. The sounds your baby first heard are your voice and heartbeat, and now that he's out, your little one will hear the sounds more clearly (without the buffer on the amniotic fluid). 

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    When your baby hears you speak, he starts to recognize sounds and words and may even begin to understand them just by the tone of your voice. The more you talk to him often, the more sounds he hears, and the more his vocabulary expands.

    Try to minimize baby talk and exaggerate the way you speak the words instead. Repeat words often and don't be afraid to use words your baby may not yet understand. Be sure to allow normal pauses in between so that your baby can talk back with babbles, and he hears what it sounds.

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    Conversing with your baby is a primer on social skills 

    Once your baby starts cooing and babbling back at you, respond to him as if you're in a conversation. Maintain eye contact to show your baby he has your full attention. You're already teaching your baby about basic communication skills like taking turns in talking and interacting with other people.

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    React to your baby's sounds by varying your tone, pitch, and facial expressions, thereby showing him different emotions. Babies tend to respond more to high pitched voices, but feel free experiment with your voice. Keep in mind that your little one will benefit and respond more to positive interactions. 

    When you talk to your baby, you can also find out more about his personality or temperament, which may be evident by how often he wants to talk (baby needs quiet time or alone-time, too!) or how he's persuaded to engage in your conversation. If your baby is not in the mood, give it a rest and try another time. 

    Social skills have been tagged by experts as just as vital to your child's development and success in the future, maybe even more so than school grades. 

    Talking to your baby promotes trust

    "Your talking teaches baby the power of words. This begins the process of special attachment and builds a trusting relationship," says Alice Sterling Honig, Ph.D., author of Secure Relationships: Nurturing Infant-Toddler Attachments in Early Care Settings.

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    Your baby will learn from the cadences and tones of your voice that he's safe. As a result, he may not fuss as much when nursing or will learn to wait when you change nappies. 

    When you talk to your baby while he's crying or fussing and say, "Everything is going to be okay," it helps build trust. Remember, it's your voice that has soothed him the moment he could hear in your womb.

    So, what are you waiting for? Go and talk to your baby!

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