Oh, the joy of welcoming a baby to your home! So much for you to learn about each other; to say communication is of the essence is an understatement. You don’t speak “baby” and your baby does speak your language. But you must communicate if you want to get ahead. Love is one of the first language your baby will learn, then comes trust – and shortly following is emotion. But what happens to all the words you speak? The stories you tell? The hopes and dreams you wish upon them?
For starters, if you are using “goos and gaas” with your baby, stop at once. Studies show that babies who listen full sentences stimulate the part of the brain associated with speech and language and boosts language development. So, while they may not literally understand what you are saying, they do understand dialects, emotions, and pitches in your voice.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests: “To help your baby increase her understanding, keep talking to her as much as possible. Tell her what’s happening around her, particularly as you bathe, change, and feed her. Make your language simple and specific: “I’m drying you with the big blue towel. See how soft it feels!” Verbally label familiar toys and objects for her, and try to be as consistent as possible— that is, if you call the family pet a cat today, don’t call it a kitty tomorrow.”
If you’re bilingual parent, presta mucha atencion, there is an extra perk in if for you!
Over the past decade, Ellen Bialystok, a distinguished research professor of psychology at York University in Toronto, has shown that bilingual children develop crucial skills in addition to their double vocabularies, learning different ways to solve logic problems or to handle multitasking, skills that are often considered part of the brain’s so-called executive function.
These higher-level cognitive abilities are localized to the frontal and prefrontal cortex in the brain. “Overwhelmingly, children who are bilingual from early on have precocious development of executive function,” Dr. Bialystok said.
If you think that the TV in the room playing novelas is just white noise to your baby, think again. There’s plenty of research that shows children, ages 0-3 process more than meets the eye. If your want your baby to have a plethora of words stored in his or her little brain-bank, speak full sentences, be very descriptive, and make-up stories as you go about your day.
Daisy De La Cruz, Latism Director (@hey_dais)