Although it seems that in the first few weeks and months of your baby’s life, he is only sleeping, eating, crying or hiccuping, the research tells us otherwise.
Babies are listening to the sounds in their environment from the very beginning. In fact, research shows that newborns process their mother's voice differently and more actively than that of strangers.
Talking with your baby from the first day of life gives them a valuable start towards language development.
"The only thing we know of, that makes babies smarter, is talking to them," says Lise Eliot, neuroscientist and author of What's Going on in There?
So, use every opportunity to talk with your baby. Create a moment of communication and connection at every possible moment. Daily routines, such as changing times, feeding, bath time, or going out, are all excellent chances to prepare your baby for a transition through words. For example, “Mama’s going to feed you now,” “Mama’s going to take off your clothes, then we’re gonna take a bath.”
From providing a language rich environment from the start, babies begin to understand what speech sounds like. Soon, they will learn that these sounds become words and have meaning.
To maximize word learning and communication in those first few months of life, use close face-to-face contact during awake times and during conversation. Respond to your baby’s “ooohs” and “uuhhs,” so that he knows he is being heard.
I spoke with Jennifer Laurent, life coach, mom, and author of Excerpts from the Heart of a Mom, to discuss just how capable babies are of communicating, even before they have words to express it.
"Our awareness of the ability to communicate with our children allows us to create a deeper parent/child relationship from early on. As new mothers, we can sometimes feel overwhelmed, making it very easy to overlook the innate wisdom our little babies have. By finding ways to slow down and truly validate to our babies that we know they can understand us and we respect their needs as unique beings, we immediately cultivate a relationship based in trust, respect, and unconditional love.
"When we slow things down and quiet the stresses and worries, we are then able to see with our hearts through our eyes. We can take a moment to stop when are babies are crying and really listen, feeling them at a deeper level and calling forth our own innate wisdom and inner voice. We can hear the slight difference in a cry, tune into the look in our babies eyes, and notice the way they take in our love.
"Suddenly we are communicating and it is as if we have a language of our own, a language easily understood by both mother and child.
"This connection is possible and it is profound. Take the time to quiet your mind in whatever way works for you, allowing you to connect with your inner voice.
"Speak to your child and listen to what they have to offer back. Listen with your heart and your entire being. Hold them not only with your arms, but with every inch of love within you. Take time to look into their eyes, seeking to connect with them at the deepest level possible. Open your heart to the gift of communication available to you from the beginning."
Jennifer Laurent wears many hats as a single mother, life coach, author, and yoga instructor. Born and raised in NY, Jennifer earned a BA in Psychology and a Masters in Clinical Social Work. In her first book, Excerpts from the Heart of a Mom, Jennifer presents readers with fundamental insights on her approach to conscious parenting. LiveThroughTheHeart.com is Jennifer’s website where she blogs about life experiences and shares her life coaching skills with readers as a source of inspiration.