It amazes me how my son can out talk me. He talks endlessly and incessantly.
I remember the first time he said the word “Mama”. I was ecstatic with joy. His first audible word. I said audible because long before he could utter words, he was already communicating with me.
Oh yes, from the moment I heard his first cry, I felt my protective instinct kick up. My son is crying because he needs me.
Crying was the first form of communication that my son and I had. Whatever he is feeling, he communicates it to me through crying. The sound and manner of his cries vary and each means something different.
The timeline for a child’s speech learning ability varies. Some toddlers learn to say a few words at 12 months while others takes as long as 18 months.
During the first 3 months, I would talk to my son or sing to him. I noticed that he seem to be familiarizing himself with the sound of my voice. Most of the sounds is just gurgling and cooing. I would also read to him and we listened to music a lot. He would often react by smiling and waving his arms and legs.
During his 4th to 7th month of age, he seemed to realize that the sounds he make affects me. He started making more sounds, changing the pitch of his babble as if trying to give emphasis on what he wants to convey. I started using flash cards so that he can associate the words with the object. I would often read stories to him using different voice pitch.
On his 8th month, I heard his first word. He called me “Mama”. I do not know if it was just by chance but it took another month and a half before he repeated the word. He was experimenting with different words as he near his 1st year. He also started associating words with objects. He learned to ask for things without crying, when he wants milk, he would bring me his feeding bottle instead of crying.
Effective ways to communicate with your toddler
The first year of your child’s life is the most important phase of their development. The development of your child’s skills will depend on how effectively you were able to communicate with him as a child.
A few tips on effectively communicating with your child:
- Always talk to your baby. I remember my son loves imitating the sounds I make. Talking to him often using baby talk developed his speech and language skills faster.
- Focus your attention on your baby when communicating. I set aside a time talking to my baby. I never talk to him while doing something else. Giving him my full attention, I was able to see all his facial expression and every nuance of his movements. I did not have to worry that I might have missed something.
- Show your child he matters. Imitate your baby’s baby talk. This will show him that what he is saying is important to you. It will tell him that you are listening to him. I noticed my son gurgling with laughter whenever I would imitate him. Even if I do not understand half the things he is saying, I try my best to respond to whatever he is saying.
- Gestures and movements should accompany verbal communication. My son follows the tone of my voice and I notice that he understands me faster when I use exaggerated gestures.
- Be flexible and spontaneous. I read my son bedtime stories and he usually interrupts me with a million questions about things he gets fascinated with in the story. Example, he wanted to know about the chisel Geppheto used to create Pinocchio. Instead of continuing with the story, we discussed what a chisel is. I know that feeding his curiosity will encourage him to learn more.
- You are not a public speaker. You do not have to be perfect like a public speaker. You are talking to your child so talk as if a child would. Do not worry about grammar or pronunciation; there will be enough time to teach your child later.
Why babies cry
Crying is the only form of communication your baby can use to express his needs to you. Babies cry for different reasons and each of their cry has a certain tone to indicate what they want.
If your baby cries for an unusual length of time and if it is associated with sudden change in the normal activities, it is advisable that you consult a doctor. It may be nothing but there is no harm in making sure.
Some of the reasons why children cry for an unusual length of time:
- He develop Colic. When your baby cries for more than three hours per day, more than three days per week for three weeks, he developed a condition known as Colic. Do not worry, this condition is temporary and will go away when he reaches three or four months old.
- Your baby is ill. If a healthy baby cries despite being cradled and fed, check the temperature. If he has a slight fever, call your doctor immediately.
- Your baby is in pain. You might not of noticed a diaper pin or a small object is hurting your baby. Make a thorough check on his body.