Infant Language Milestones
While in the womb, infants listen and become familiar with the tones and sounds of voices around them. By cooing and talking to your new baby, parents are creating brain circuits necessary for language and development. "Babies are so attentive to words and sounds that by six months old, babies will have distinctively different babbling sounds that are unique to their primary language," says Dr. Leiderman. "The more words a child hears by the age of two, the more expansive his or her vocabulary will be as an adult. The acquisition of language is solely supported by a child's early experiences and through his or her interactions with others."
Although many babies seem more interested in nibbling on books than listening to them being read aloud, babies do benefit from hearing stories. Read nursery rhymes and books with rhythmic patterns and repeating and rhyming words. Parents, siblings, and caregivers can build language skills simply by talking to Baby. This will not only increase the child's vocabulary, it will also prepare her to be a reader and learner. Talking to your baby during daily rituals such as feedings, diaper changes, and bath time will benefit your child and build language and emotional capacity.
First Year Relationships and Emotions
"By two months old, infants are beginning to experience complex feelings such as joy, sadness, empathy, and anger," notes Dr. Leiderman. Studies have shown that newborns can recognize their parents and other primary caretakers and even imitate their facial expressions. "These are the precursors to building relationships throughout their lives," Dr. Leiderman says. She suggests that "attunement (the way in which parents reflect, respect, and respond to their baby's feelings) plays a critical role in influencing your child's emotional intelligence." She warns parents not to be overly didactic and have babies learn through rote methods such as flashcards.
To nurture and support emotional growth and development, parents and caregivers need to provide responsive and consistent care. We can do this by not only meeting Baby's basic needs such as feeding, diapering, and bathing, but by making Baby feel secure and loved.
Sing to your baby. Your little one doesn't mind if you sing off key or you can't remember the words. Instead, his or her face will light up by the reassuring sounds of your singing voice. Hug, hold, and kiss your baby. Talk to your baby while using eye contact and positive tone of voice and facial expressions. You could say something like, "There's my good boy, sitting in his high chair." Simple statements will increase vocabulary while building a lasting bond with your child.