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Baby Talk
Photo: Julio Mellado
All babies cry, and for good reason! Before they learn to talk, crying is one way to express their needs and send out signals of distress. Consider these three typical cries. Each is different in volume, pitch, and rhythm:

• Pain: A cry of pain or distress usually begins with an inward gasp followed by a long, rising shriek. There’s a long pause until the next painful scream. What should the caring adults do? After determining whether there’s a physical cause for the pain and moving to correct it if there is, soothe the baby by rocking or with music.

• Basic: A basic cry rises and falls rhythmically, broken up with a breath and a pause. The child may cry this way when demanding food or attention. What should the caring adults do? Try to meet the baby’s need for food or attention.

• Grumble: A grumble cry is the first attempt at communication. It has a lower pitch and volume, often sounding whimpery and whiny. It’s a signal that the child may be getting restless. What should caring adults do? Respond empathetically, and move the child to a different environment, providing new stimulation.

Talking to Baby

Do you find yourself feeling foolish when you look up and someone has noticed you grinning, gurgling and talking to a baby? Rather than acting foolish, you are being wise.

When you talk, even though a baby can’t talk back, you are teaching him or her that sounds are one way we communicate with each other. When you answer a baby’s babbling with words or noises which imitate her, she is learning from you.

Babies who are spoken to often learn to speak more easily. This is because they imitate the sounds and facial expressions of those who are talking to them. They more they are spoken to, the more practice they get. 

Communication is one of the most important things we do! So keep up the grinning, gurgling and babbling, and add in a few good words as you go!

A Mirror Game for Baby

Beginning around six or seven months, a baby will enjoy “The Mirror Game.”

Stand in front of a mirror with your baby, and point to his reflection. Using his name, say “I see Scott.” “Where is Scott?” “Find Scott’s mouth.” “Look at Scott’s hand.” Encourage him to point to himself in the mirror.

While still in front of the mirror, do the same thing with objects. Pick them up one at a time, and move them behind your baby’s head. Name these objects, telling the child something about them, such as, “This is a ball, and it is round.” Then ask, “Where is the ball?” and encourage him to point to it in the mirror.

Other mirror games can include letting your baby play with toys in front of a mirror, or sitting people around the baby in front of a mirror to say their names.

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By Susan  E. Murray. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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