During the first year, it is necessary to take corrective measures to help your baby with their development. Some say it comes naturally, well it actually does, but still, to avoid any misconduct it is very important to know the facts and what are the dos and don’ts that we should base upon our communication with our child.
1. Sing Sing Sing
Singing helps people memorize words when linking them to tunes. Singing lullabies is the best for babies as their rhythm is slow and the words are easy to spell. But sometimes I get bored from singing these tunes so I simply turn on songs I like and sing along. Whatever the song is, even if it was “baby got back”, it will be better than spending hours without interacting with the baby.
I started singing to Ayla since she was in my womb. When babies repeatedly hear the same song while in the womb of their mothers, they get very relaxed when they hear it later after birth as it brings the feeling of security to them.
2. Talk to the baby
You might think that you look like a fool talking to a baby, well you shouldn’t! Never think that a baby can’t understand what you say, their brain is miraculous; they can differentiate languages and decode words from the first day. You can watch Babies on Netflix, it is really interesting
I always talk to Ayla like I talk to a grown-up, with full words and sentences while looking at her straight in the eyes. It is important to let the baby know that you are talking to them with eye contact.
There are many ways to talk to a baby; here are some of my favorite ways
a. Ask questions: “How are you today? Are you enjoying your milk? Who’s a beautiful baby? Did you sleep well…?”
b. Read a story. We all know that the baby won’t understand what you are reading, but reading from a book can help you find words that you don’t use daily and it will widen the vocabulary that the baby hears. You can rent books if you can’t afford to buy a diversity. Check Lebanon rent a book on Instagram for very affordable almost new kids books
c. Describe what you are doing or what the baby is feeling, seeing, and doing. We all usually get busy and stay quiet while doing house chores or any physical work. Describing what you are doing can keep the baby engaged during the usual quiet time: “What is mama doing? I am washing the dishes and I am using soap and a sponge to rub this plate… What is daddy doing? I am wearing my t-shirt to do some workouts so I can lift you up in the air…”
d. Say goodnight or good morning to every object in the house. That’s a fun thing to do. Saying good night to the window, the handle, the telephone, the ceiling, the brush, will make you use many words while the baby is resting and just listening before he falls asleep. And this could also be integrated into the baby’s sleep routine.
3. Play games
Playing with your baby is the most fun way to bond and it can help him link words to visuals. Also playing games can develop the sense of touch and improve the motor skills of the baby as they move their hands to interact with an object, feel a texture or just point towards something. I used KidKit beautiful sensory kit for kids starting 6 months old.
a. Book with visuals. Reading from a book with visuals and pointing to them while saying the name, is an easy way to help both visual and linguistic skills development
b. Visual, word and sound. Use the animal toys to describe what they are and what sound they do. While holding the cow, we ask the baby what sound does the cow makes? Mewww
c. Make him choose. Hold two objects and ask; do you want red or blue? Do you want the dog or the cat? Do you want the rectangle or circle?
4. Avoid blocking or interrupting and let them talk back
I personally used the pacifier with Ayla, as she was starting to suck on her thumb and I needed it as a replacement. But using a pacifier can be negative if used in the wrong way. The pacifier can become an obstruction that prevents the baby from making sounds; discovering their tongue, moving their lips… it is crucial that we only use the pacifier in specific moments during the day.
Likewise, when a baby starts babbling and shouting out loud vowels and consonants, we should let him enjoy this quiet time without sending information and let him react and express all the things that he learned and wants to express and exercise.
5. Imitate baby’s actions and sound
Imitating the baby’s sounds makes her learn that she can eventually imitate you as well. So when the baby says a “baba” by mistake we should repeat it so she memorizes it.
6. Build on what they say
At a certain moment, your kid will start saying a word, such as “nana” to refer to a “banana”. As a result, when the baby says “nana” we should repeat the correct word and say a longer sentence like “Do you want a banana?”
7. Tone the baby’s facial and lips muscles
A lot of you might not know that the tools we are using in the daily routine of the baby might bring harm to their speech development. Bottles, pacifiers, spoons, straws…, what to use and how to use them?
a. Breastfeeding and sucking
The baby makes a lot of effort while breastfeeding to suck out the milk from his mother’s breasts. This sucking action improves and strengthens the baby’s jaw and tongue muscles that will help him eventually talk. Sucking from a bottle is easier for the baby as the milk flows easily when performing a light sucking action. Therefore using bottles with slower milk flow can make the baby keep working out these muscles. I used Medela‘s bottles that give the baby as much milk as the power of his suction
Try to introduce straws and anti-spill cups at the earliest possible.
Don’t hesitate to start introducing bigger chunks of food gradually to the baby. Chewing is also a great exercise for their muscles. You can get a meal plan for the baby with Little Melly Solids, it is a life saviour, you get freshly cooked baby meals with the correct amount and texture for each stage of your baby’s development.
c. Promote nasal breathing
Breathing from the nose brings oxygen straight up to the brain, which helps kids use their full brain potential. Using a pacifier makes the baby obliged to breathe from his nose as his mouth is busy sucking. So it can be a great breathing exercise. Nonetheless during the night while the baby is sleeping make sure the baby is breathing from his nose.
So these are all the techniques I have followed, and all that I learned from both professionals Speech Therapist Marie Reine Ayoub & Psychomotor Therapist Anastasia Bassila. You can take an online course with them.
Finally, the most important thing that you should learn -if you noticed, I didn’t share any milestones- is that each kid has his own pace. So just help your baby but don’t rush him into anything.