Different Ways to Communicate with Your 6- to 12-Month-Old
In this world of ever-increasing distractions, it's becoming more and more important to engage our children and focus on meaningful communication. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association stresses the importance of talking with your children, even when they can't talk back. Talk, talk, talk. There's no doubt it's one of the most important things you can do to encourage development in your baby; however, not all children have the same needs and abilities. Are you interested in alternative forms of communicating with your baby? Why not try creative expression through music and dance?
The idea of communicating with your baby through music is not really a new one. Since the beginning of time, parents have sung lullabies to calm and soothe their little ones. Even when we speak to our babies, we sometimes do it in a sing-song voice. It seems to be instinctive, and babies definitely respond to it.
A study conducted by McMaster University discovered that babies who participated in interactive music classes developed better early communication skills. They pointed to objects out of reach sooner, waved goodbye, and smiled more often. Andrea Unreau, the study coordinator, said, “The great thing about music is everyone loves it, and everyone can learn simple interactive musical games together.”
Think your little one is too young to participate in a dance class? Many dance studios offer “Mommy and Me” classes (or Daddy and Me), where you're able to assist your child in the movement. They may require that your child hit certain milestones, like crawling, before enrolling, though. The Nurturing Pathways program, a program that uses creative dance to teach children, offers a baby class for 3-month-olds to pre-walkers. The class uses props, instruments, folk dance, infant massage, tummy time, and other fun activities to help parents engage their babies.
Sure, it would be great if we could all enroll in these programs, but not all of us have the means or the time, or maybe there are no classes like these offered where you live. Don't despair if it's something you're interested in. You don't need the help of a pro to communicate with your child. Many of these activities can be done at home.
Sing songs to your baby—no matter what your singing voice is like. Sing lullabies to soothe; sing fun children's songs to play. Engage your child with either homemade or purchased musical instruments. Turn on the radio and dance with your baby. If she's too young to move on her own, hold her and sway with her. If he can stand or sit, encourage him to explore movement on his own. Most children instinctively move to music by bouncing or bobbing their heads. The more you expose them to music and allow them to explore, the more confident and creative they'll become in their movement. And the more the two of you will bond and understand each other.