Richmond Baby has been smiling for a little while now and I never tire of it, not one bit. It started as a little grin that appeared randomly and now it’s a full-on beam that appears in response to faces, singing, and general encouragement, it’s fantastic! But what has really started to fascinate me now is the little cooing and aah-oooing noises she is making and, more than that, her response when we make similar noises back at her. It’s like we’ve begun to learn a whole new language that helps us commuicate with each other and it’s amazing to see how she looks intently at us and responds when we match her ooos and aahs.
I’ve been doing some swotting-up on baby babble and it seems that those oos and aahs really are baby beginings of spoken language, her first attempts at figuring out speech. Apparently, they start these vocal experiments as a way of discovering which combinations of throat, tongue and mouth actions make what sounds. Cooing is also a step up from crying on the communication ladder, which is a bonus for all let’s face it!
Of course I’m keen to encourage Richmond Baby to chit-chat and while I realise that her first actual words aren’t likely to come for a long while yet (although that hasn’t stopped Richmond Daddy saying “dadda” to her slowly and carefully pretty much every day since she entered the world) I’d like to do everything I can to gee her along. So here are some top tips for talking to baby that I’ve come across:
Give a running commentary: basically narrate everything you’re doing, apparently giving detailed descriptions helps get you talking and baby listening
- Ask a lot: ask lots of questions, pause for an answer, then supply it yourself, out loud
- Give baby a chance: talk with baby rather that at them, leaving space in your “conversation” for them to coo and gurgle
- Keep it simple: making a conscious effort to use simple sentances and phrases helps baby start to pick out individual words e.g. ‘See the light’, ‘Nice doggie’
- Put aside pronouns: refer to yourself as ‘mummy’ or ‘daddy’ and to your baby by name e.g. ”Daddy is going to clean Allegra’s poo-bum”…
- Raise your pitch: most babies prefer a high pitched voice so try raising your pitch when talking directly to baby
- Imitate: babies love the flattery that comes with imitation, so if she coos then coo back, apparently it builds the foundation for her to imitate your language
- Set it to music: babies love you singing to them, no matter what it is. Allegra’s top tunes right now are Take That’s Shine, Simon & Garfunkel’s Cecelia, and the Italian national anthem…
- Read aloud: although the words will have no meaning to baby, apparently it’s never to early to begin reading simple rhyming stories or board books out loud
Richmond Baby signals she's had enough of incessant chatter from Kate & Wills: do they ever shut up?!
- Take your cues from baby: know when to button it! Apparently incessant chatter and song can be tiresome for baby, so when you notice her becoming less attentive, closing her eyes or looking away, or becoming cranky, it’s time to shut up!
(Taken and edited from ”What to expect – the first year” by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, & Sandee Hathaway)
Right, that’s me for today, I’m now off to discuss the pros and cons of the AV system with Richmond Baby. Oh, what’s that? she’s yawning already…
Nobody said it was easy and truly, it is not. Richmond Baby is an unbelievable 6-weeks old on Monday and she really is a gorgeous bubba and on the whole a good one at that, but man sometimes it is relentless – the feeding, the changing, the dressing/undressing (often thrice daily), the changing again, the vomming, the crying, the farting, the crying when there’s no farting (trapped wind is a terrible thing), the endless singing (I’ve worked my way through pretty much the whole Take That and Simon & Garfunkel back catalogue), I could go on…
Nothing prepares you for it.
But something else happened this week that I was similarly unprepared for: Richmond Baby’s first smile!! And I mean a proper bona fide smile, not just a wind-induced facial expression you convince yourself is a smile. This was an ACTUAL SMILE!! An actual smile in response to my face, then in response to my smile, and now I’ve realised that I can induce a smile with a gentle rub of her chubby cheeks and little chin, it is magical!
When she breaks into a big smile, when she chuckles happily, it is AMAZING and no matter how little sleep I’ve had, how much poo or wee or vom I’ve had thrown at me, how many times I’ve sung “Cecilia”, how sore my bodily parts are, it all just fades away.
Well, can you blame me?…