Updated: 4 days ago
The first year of a baby’s life is a very important time for the development of the brain. The quality of the environment and the interaction that babies have with their carers are very crucial in ensuring babies’ progress.
Babies are naturally social and seek contact with those around them. They are likely to seek this contact from adults and older children. They need carers who are responsive to the early attempts of communication. If they do not receive a response, babies will give up and development opportunities will be lost.
Early learning and communication can be supported by:
· Providing a calm atmosphere that allows babies to pick up familiar sounds and voices. This does not mean silence, but an acknowledgment that the baby cannot make sense of a very noisy environment;
· Use care routines as opportunities for communication with babies. Physical care may take up most of the baby’s time when awake. Changing and washing are good opportunities for close contact and chatting with a baby. Babies respond to the splash of water. Sufficient time should be given during personal care routines, rather than a ‘conveyor belt approach’, where babies are whisked through the procedure as quickly as possible;
· Carers need to give babies their full attention. Babies thrive on this and will lose interest if the carers’ attention is elsewhere;
· When planning activities for the babies, have realistic expectations about how they will respond and what they will learn from them. For example, hand printing on paper will be a meaningless task to an 8-month-old. They will be more interested in tasting the paint and smearing it all over their body.
Useful tips when talking to babies:
· Get close to the baby, they love faces and respond to smiles;
· Use short phrases and ordinary words, avoid baby talk;
· Consider tone and modulation of your voice. Babies respond to a slightly higher pitch than usual and expressive speech;
· Pause and listen to the baby, this rhythm should reflect the pattern of normal conversation;
· Repetition of the same or similar phrases is helpful, but do not overdo this;
· Follow the baby's lead and initiate the conversation, which could be in the form of simple sounds. See what they are looking at or pointing and then respond.