Handbook of Language and Literacy Development - a Roadmap from 0 to 60 Months

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Interacting (0-12 Months)click to print Print

Written by: Heather Sample Gosse, University of Alberta

Respond to your baby. When he or she cries out, try to determine what's wrong. Is your baby hungry? Wet? Bored? Try to help. When you respond, your baby learns that what he or she does can signal others. An important lesson in the power of communication!

Watch your baby carefully. Spend time face-to-face. Observe facial expressions and body movements and listen to his or her tone of voice. Babies gradually become more able to tell caregivers what they want and need. It may take time to learn the meaning of some of your baby's special ways of communicating.

Be patient with a baby who seems to need to look at everything or even touch everything. This is an important part of interacting with his or her world. Babies first develop their understanding of people and objects through watching and touching before they are able to talk about the world.

Play with objects with your baby. Show him or her how the objects move and talk about what you are doing. Look from your baby to an object while saying "Look". Let your baby explore safe objects. By the time your baby is nine months old, you will be able to use pointing to draw his or her attention to objects in the distance. You will have even more things to talk about! Talking about and exploring objects together helps your baby learn to focus on the same thing as someone else - an important skill for later conversations.

Set up predictable daily routines. You are probably already doing special things at bath and bedtime. Try to talk about the things you are doing. As you do them in the same way each day, your baby will learn the connection between the actions and the talk. Pause frequently to give your baby a chance to chime in with a vocalization or gesture.

Read favorite books together. If you read the book in the same way many times, pointing to key pictures and naming them, you will often soon find that your baby shows anticipation of your actions and he or she may copy your pointing and make sounds or attempt words.

At times during the first year, your baby may be most interested in interacting with his or her primary caregiver. Be patient with your baby. Encourage those who want to interact with him or her to allow your baby to approach him or her slowly.