3 Ways to Break the Communication Barrier with Your Infant
You're likely going to notice big changes in the way your baby communicates as he or she reaches that two-month mark. As a newborn, your baby's primary form of communication was crying, but by the time baby reaches three months, that will no longer be the case. This is a relief in many ways, but it can also be a challenge as you struggle to figure out what your baby is trying to communicate to you and to figure out ways for you to communicate back.
Here are some ideas to develop your baby's communication skills and to help you grow more attuned.
A great way to communicate with your baby is through music. Babies are soothed by slow, narrative songs like lullabies. When your child is upset, try singing a soothing song over and over until he or she relaxes. When your baby is alert, engage him or her in happy, fun songs or rhymes like “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Not only does music boost early learning, but songs can also stretch a child's vocabulary, which improves communication.
A More Productive Tummy Time
We all know tummy time is important to develop a baby's muscles and motor ability, but did you know it can improve their communication skills as well? Here are some ways, adapted from suggestions on Nurturing Pathways, to help make tummy time more productive:
- Put yourself at the same level as your baby so that you can have eye contact and stay engaged.
- Sing songs, recite rhymes, and move your body in time to them.
- Tap rhythms out on your baby's hands, back, bottom, etc.
- Schedule a play date with others and place the babies close to each other during tummy time; the infants will observe each other. It is important that you remain close, however, and continue to talk and provide supportive touch.
The power of touch is amazing. There are 3,000 touch receptors in one fingertip, and nearly 5 million in the entire human body! Infant massage can be a powerful communicator, telling your child he or she is safe, loved, protected, and understood.
According to “Touch Communication, The Power of Infant Massage” by Elaine Fogel Schneider, PhD, infant massage is 20% technique and 80% communication. She explains that babies are “social creatures” who learn from their interactions with others, and that touch develops attachment behavior. “Infant massage is not done to an infant,” Schneider said. “It is done with the infant.” The parent or caregiver is supposed to ask questions and pay special attention to the baby's cues—both the negative and the positive. Babies tell us a lot through their bodies, and massage helps us understand what they are trying to say. It also helps us connect and bond even more.