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Baby Babble

By Maureen Penko

The beautiful event of waiting for the baby's arrival finds us going through many rituals including shopping for the event, thinking of a name, doctors' appointments, and making arrangements for the siblings when the event takes place.

As I began to write this article I was transported to how different both my births were. So, the saying "babies arrive when they do and nothing stops the process" is correct. The title of this article came about as I was reminded that when my children were born there was a controversy about baby babble and the research of the day said sing and talk, with your baby but don't talk baby talk. Later on, we found ourselves in love with the term "motherese" a well-researched technique on baby talk. In essence talk to them so they will "talk to you"

The first six months may feel like a test of our skills. We watch with wonder the baby development. The sense of hearing, touch, smell, vision, tasting are awakened. The innate ability to vocalize unfolds when baby makes all sort of animal like snorts, grunts and what a delight when we watch them sleeping and that quirky smile shows up. The muscles of the mouth are exercised when the baby feeds and swallows. Breastfeeding or bottling exercises the lips and tongue. Suckling, smacking chewing all are practice for the first sounds ah, ga, w, b and m. Stretching sounds needs air flow, breath support and lip tone for the ah, oo and eee vowels that will follow. Soon we hear a string of vowels being sung called cooing gah, ahgah, ha. This behavior calls for us to copy the sounds and encourage all this mouth aerobics. It's baby's way of talking to us.

As baby begins to track and startle to sources of sound, we are reminded about the importance of vision and hearing. By age 2 to 3 months if these behaviors are not there hearing should be checked. Smiling is a behavior that appears when seeing that familiar face of the caregiver, recognition and the sense of touch is essential for the bonding process. During feeding, talking and singing to the baby gives us the closeness that the baby needs and we fall in love. Soon we will see the muscle movement, head and neck straining, feet moving and hands coming into play. All of this gives the baby an understanding of their environment They are learning language through experiences and words they hear: hi, mummy, daddy, big sister, bottle, apple sauce, stroller, mini gym and tickle. Vocabulary building is our talking so the brain processes the information through the sense of touch and experience. It is called kinesthetic learning and is essential in language learning.

By six months - 8 months your baby is babbling, takes a turn to exchange by voice. By ten months they are engaged in a lot of vowel consonant combinations, in a phrase like chants. These are the foundations to words that will emerge any time between 11-13 months of age.

So, what are some of the key milestones to watch:

Birth - 6 months

  • Responding to sound
  • Exercising the mouth muscles through feeding and swallowing.
  • Cooing and babbling
  • Awareness and recognition.
  • Looking and tracking with their eyes
  • Responsive to the face with smiles and frowns.
  • Developing the large muscles through movement.

6 months to 1 year

  • There are daily changes in alertness
  • Increased tolerance of food and textures
  • Sound and speech practice with tone of voice
  • Listening to the books you read and understanding what you say
  • Muscle development, reaching, pointing, showing, head shake for no, dumping and pushing items

1 year

  • Independence in mobility, saying lots of sounds and beginning words.
  • Speech sounds, vocabulary development and talking exchanges develop rapidly.

The saying "Let the fun begin" is so true.

If you have any questions about your child's sound, speech or language development.

Call us at 204-510-7556 or e-mail us for more information.

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