Posts Tagged ‘talking’

Is My Baby Talking Enough?

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

is my baby talking enough?After my first son was born, I voraciously followed his milestones and progress with several books, including What to Expect: The First Year, Dr. Sears’ book, and the AAP book. (Full disclosure: with my second child … I maybe didn’t pay quite so much attention to these things). I also compared notes with the other moms in my online due date club.

As a first-time parent, I had tons of anxiety about milestones: Was my baby progressing adequately, was I doing enough as his parent to ensure he did? Guess what…these thoughts are totally normal. For me (and the parents of many toddlers, particularly boys), his speech development was my largest concern. My baby was shy, yes, but he also didn’t seem to have nearly the language development going on as his peers. The pediatrician that saw him at his first birthday well baby checkup commented that, “If he were a girl, she would be concerned.”

So when is it time to take action with a possible speech delay? Honestly, if you think there may be a delay, I would consult your pediatrician. Babies often make language gains rather sporadically, and chances are your child is developing normally. If she is not, however, early intervention is really important.

If you think your child may have a delay, or perhaps a family member or childcare provider has suggested something similar, the first step is talking to your pediatrician. Your provider will have you fill out a developmental questionnaire (you probably have done several of these already). If she feels it’s necessary, she will refer your child to a specialist. In the state I lived in, there was an early intervention office run by the state for children under three years old, and after the third birthday, the school district was responsible for screening. It’s important to trust your gut on this one—if your doctor thinks your child is developing normally and you really feel otherwise, speak up.

The testing is pretty fun for many kids (my son thought it was fantastic); it’s geared to be mostly playing with a speech and occupational therapist, and you stay in the room the whole time. If they find delays to a significant enough degree, they will refer you to ST or OT (in the state I lived in, the wait list to get into speech therapy was very long). Preschoolers may be able to do therapy sessions through a local elementary school or even qualify for a special education preschool, depending on where you live.

Just remember though, the milestones are just averages. Try not to get overly concerned about any one part, but if you feel your child may be falling behind, don’t hesitate to voice your concerns.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two young boys and a foster mom to a variety of rescue dogs and cats.

Did my Baby Just Talk?

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Did my Baby Just Talk? First words are one of those milestones that encompass so much. But when is it a first word? Does it only require the audible creation of sound— “ma” said twice in quick succession? Perhaps it needs to be said purposefully, toward an object or in response to a question? Does it need to be clear for anyone to understand or just a parent or caregiver who knows the child best? Is saying it one time enough to count as a “real” word?

Repetitive sounds, like mama and dada, might come out first because your child is most familiar with your encouragement of those words, but research also shows repetitive sounds are appear to be hard-wired into our brains. Ba, da, and ma so happen to be easier to say in speech development, so mama and dada are at an advantage over almost any other combination of letters in the English language.

So when can you expect those first words? Coos and babbles come first, quickly proceeded by repetition of random sounds (ba-ba-ba-ba) by eight months. Enter here the moment when almost every parent gets excited when the random repetition so happens to come in the form of “ma” or “da.” It was a video-worthy moment in our home!

But it’s somewhere between nine and fourteen months most babies utter their first purposeful word. Aside from the names of parents or other caregivers, words like no or bye-bye are also common as well as names of siblings or family pets.

Don’t underestimate how much your child can understand, though. They may only be speaking baby talk, but their minds understand more than their tongues let on. Whatever the word and whenever it happens aside, encourage your child’s development by reading books with and regularly talking to your child, and limiting television (which does not generally encourage active participation. Beyond initiating conversation with your babe, also allow your babe to start the conversation and reflect what you hear back. Play with sounds, tone, and volume of speech. Most of all, have fun!

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Talking to Your Baby

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Talk to your babyAs a first-time mom, I had no idea what to do with my baby. The second time around was easier, but I still needed a ton of help. With that pregnancy, I had an amazing doula who passed on a ton of wisdom. Some of the things she told me sounded quirky, but I did them anyway because it seemed like a good idea. The more time that passes since then, the more I am realizing the truths of what she told me.

One of the things she emphasized was talking to my baby. Like, really talking to her. Telling her what I was going to do before I did it. Asking permission to do things like lay her down or change a diaper. Narrating the things we were doing to together.

Today, there are studies that suggest asking permission can help develop a sense of body autonomy, or the idea that you have ultimate control over your own body. This is a huge concept lately because of the highly publicized sexual crimes against women and children, and the idea that teaching kids to give over control to adults can erode this sense that they have control over the most intimate parts of themselves. Teaching body autonomy means that kids know from day one what parts are private and that no one has the right to touch them in a way—any way—that they aren’t comfortable with. Part of this means you don’t make children physically interact with people if they don’t want to and that you stop when they say “no” or “stop” even if you are tickling or roughhousing for fun.

You can begin teaching body autonomy from day one by asking your baby if you can change his or her diaper, and announcing what you are doing during the process. When babies are nonverbal, you don’t need to get a response before acting, but it’s important that you ask. I remember being so surprised when each of my children responded to my rhetorical questions each time by laying down for a change or saying, “OK!”

Besides teaching body autonomy, talking to your baby has other benefits. Babies whose parents talk to them have larger vocabularies, and this can help boost their ability to learn at age 3. And the more words, the better. Remember that you don’t have to read baby books to babies. You can read the New Yorker, Us Magazine, your favorite blog, or whatever you are reading. What’s important is not the content but the word variety.

Either out of an ingrained sense of this or the loneliness that sometimes is part of being a stay-at-home mom, I got used to narrating my grocery store trips. Now my kids know the names of every fruit and vegetable, but be warned that it’s a hard habit to break. You’ll often find me wandering the aisles childless, muttering, “Oh! We forgot the tomato sauce! Have to go back!” to no one in particular.

Finally, talking to your baby can help build a secure attachment bond with your baby. In addition to things like learning your baby’s cues and responding to your baby’s needs, talking to baby helps build a bond in a way that doesn’t over stimulate or wear them out. In fact, you may just look down into your carrier and realize our baby has fallen asleep listing to your voice. I found it helpful to voice my feelings to baby when I was frustrated with my baby. It’s almost like therapy.

The best thing about talking to your baby is there’s nothing special you need to do. Just talk. Talk about your fears and hopes for them. Tell them your secrets. Talk about your grocery list. Tell them a story or tell them how they were born. Just talk to them.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls, ages 6, 3.5 and 2 years old, who lives in Queensbury, New York. She talks to her baby when she can get a word in, which isn’t too often anymore.


Communication Frustrations with Toddlers

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Communication Frustrations with ToddlersIt’s an exciting moment when your child starts to say their first words. For my daughter, it was “momma.” Then “daddy” came along. By her 18 month check-up, however, she wasn’t talking as much as I thought she should be. My pediatrician calmed my fears, and now at 26 months, she talks my ear off. However, there have definitely been some frustrating moments with communication.

Most toddlers babble. I am going to say I will definitely miss the baby babble once it’s gone completely. Words like pink, Teddy, eat, Mimi, and go are now my daughter’s favorite things to throw in between babble. While it is frustrating to try to understand this babble, it is also very frustrating for toddlers when we don’t get it.

Toddlers have a big, new world in front of them. Sadly, many times they become overcome with emotions and frustrations and communicate these feelings in a negative way.

Common Ways Toddlers Show Frustration

Crying: This one seems simple enough, but many toddlers simply cry when they cannot express what they need or want to an adult. It’s important to “tolerate the tears.” Let your child express themselves and get out the tears. Then, find a way to comfort them.  Cuddle, nurse, or simply curl up on the couch together and read a book that makes them happy. Have a few toys close by that make them happy and use the moment to talk about the toys.

Hitting and Biting: This is a tough one for me to write about. My sweet girl has had her issues with hitting. Most often, toddlers hit when they can’t express what they need or want. Hands are communication tools for toddlers. It’s important to show your toddler how to express themselves without using aggression. Hands Are Not For Hitting is a fun board book my daughter loves. It teaches a great lesson, too!

Sometimes they simply need your attention. Respond with a soft voice, and show them how to touch gently. Many toddlers also go through a biting phase. Remember your child is trying to communicate something to you. Use this as a teachable moment. Responding with patience is not easy.

I think it’s important to remember that toddlers are little sponges. They are learning how to communicate with adults in a big, new world. They may become frustrated and angry while trying to communicate, but it is our job as moms to help them grow, learn, and understand their emotions.

I definitely have days where I don’t understand everything my daughter is trying to tell me. For example, she says “play” and “potty” almost exactly the same. I often upset her by asking her to go potty when she simply wants to play with her dollhouse.  But, I’m learning that we both communicate better when mommy isn’t frustrated and she’s free to use her own precious little voice. Sweetest sound ever.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2 in Northeast Indiana. She is learning new things every day from her kiddos.