Your Baby's Brain in Week 21
The slam of the front door, the plop! of his sippy cup as it hits the floor—right now Baby continues to associate things that move with the noises they make. As he does so, he is better equipped to manage, predict, and make sense of what's going on in his little world at home and elsewhere.
What the Research Shows
Research couple Patricia Kuhl and Andrew Meltzoff showed five-month-olds two video screens, one with a face whose lips mouthed the vowel sound eee, the other ahhh. Then they played an audiotape of the sound eee or ahhh. Incredibly, the babies correctly looked at the faces with the lips making the matching sounds. (How satisfying for them—and the researchers looking on!)
Another illustration of babies' ability to mesh sound with movement comes from Jeffery Pickens. He showed five-month-olds two films side by side: one showed a train moving away from the babies, the other a train coming toward them. Then out of a loudspeaker, he played engine sounds: one getting gradually louder (thus appearing to come closer) and another getting gradually fainter (thus appearing to be moving away). The babies looked longer at the film whose movement matched the engine sounds. They appeared to have an understanding of the link between the pattern of sound they heard with the pattern of movement they saw.
Week 21 Brain Booster
When you talk to your baby using parentese, know that she is not only paying attention to your voice but also your lips. Face-to-face interactions do more for her than talking to her from across the room, where she can't quite see your features as clearly. (This is why children learn language best by watching lips move which match the words they hear, versus hearing an audio tape where no lips are involved—research shows that the former works, the latter doesn't.)
Since Baby is busy meshing sounds with movement, give her opportunities to see your lips as you speak so that they'll match your voice. (And think about it—don't you prefer being talked to rather than talked at?)