Look Who’s Talking Now! The importance of Early Communication and Interaction.

{Disclosure: We are thrilled to partner with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota to share helpful information about early childhood development for children ages zero to three. A host of additional early childhood resources are available on the Children’s website.}

Look Who's Talking Now | Twin Cities Moms Blog

When I found out I was pregnant I jumped for joy, shouted it from the rooftops, got all chatty with other soon-to-be’s, read every parenting book I could get my hands on, started to read to my belly (doesn’t everyone do this?) and didn’t always keep my singing to the shower… Needless to say, I was excited.

What I didn’t know was that everything I was doing would benefit my babies earlier than one might think. They could hear our voices, the hum and rhythm of the lullabies I practiced prior to their debut, and even the varying degrees of my hormonal emotions from laughter to sudden sobbing. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, babies can learn to recognize words and sounds in the womb and it begins in the third trimester when, “the sound-processing parts of their brain become active” (source). Amazingly, my little sidekicks were beginning to soak it all in even before they arrived. As they grew inside me and later met us on the outside, all of the chatter they heard would quickly become a big part of their development. This bond we have with our babies as soon as they arrive, has many facets. One important part is that they recognize our voices and our sounds and this recognition not only promotes happiness but also stimulates their rapidly developing brains.

By talking and vocalizing what we’re seeing and doing, we are constantly encouraging our children to explore the world with their words. The folks at Children’s Hospitals and Clinic As I watch and hear my little ones pick up on everything, I’m simply amazed by what they know. When you think they aren’t listening, their little brains are taking detailed notes and storing it all for when you least expect it. This is the same concept for a baby. They may not have all the cues yet to show you that they are learning but with five senses, they are definitely aware, learning, exploring, and constantly interested.

So, why is this so important?

“Research shows that parents and caregivers can help close the word gap by talking, reading and singing with their children from birth every day. ”

-Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, source

Your children need you. They want to hear and understand you. When I reminisce on the past few years, I feel like everything happened at light speed. I may not have thought I was fully prepared to be their teacher but I was unknowingly teaching them every single moment a word fell out of my mouth. These are vital years to acknowledge the importance of talking to your children, telling stories, describing things on walks, objects in stores and everything around you. Each phase and stage matters and they are listening. Every child is different and will reach milestones at different stages but below is a brief summary of the experiences you just may expect!

Birth to 6 months: Within just 6 months a child knows you very well. All of their senses are in full gear and they are the spongiest students in the world. Not only do they know your scent and can distinguish you from others, but they also know your voice and love it. They love it so much, that since they were born it didn’t take them too long to start asking for you (crying), cooing and grunting. Playing with sound and babbling like they’re teaching you how to speak and this is just the beginning of what your sweet mime will do over the next few years.

6 months to 12 months: Strength, balance and stability goals are very attainable and they work on it daily. Your kiddo will begin to sit on his own, crawl and actually play peek-a-boo! They are actively listening to your words, prompts and will feed off of your excitement after revealing their hidden face to you. Oh and did I mention mime? Words have begun and you may soon have a small parrot on your hands, so be careful what you say but be sure to keep the words coming. Talk to them as much as you can! The words you say and sing are diving into their ears, snuggling into their brain and just waiting to be released.  They are also much more responsive and will follow your commands, seek your approval and proudly wish you adieu by waving “bye bye”!

“The first year is the most important of any development year of life. All your baby needs to learn and thrive is one simple, breakthrough tool. You.”

-Children’s Minnesota, Source

12 months to 2 years: Huge physical feats and learning a new language have been tackled in less than a couple years! This is a lot for anyone to take on, especially a small human. So you can imagine that at this point, emotions are taking a turn down a bumpy and unpredictable road…Tempers, tantrums and refusing to respond to your requests are completely normal as they navigate a world filled with new and exciting things that they need to figure out “right now”. They are working hard managing a now large vocabulary of over 200 words. What they need from us is the skills to utilize these words in the correct way.

2 years to 3 years: You now may have some chatty humans on your hands. Curious too, asking many questions as they explore the world with all the words they know. They have a little more control with their words, after spending a few years learning from you. It’s fascinating, but also a catch-22. They have received a lot of praise over the years, while developing their language skills. Now new behaviors and emotions have jumped into the mix, resulting in discipline and consequences they have never experienced. Demanding attention, giving orders, telling jokes, and expressing their emotions is the results of all your hard work as a parent. You did it – you successfully made little walking talking people!!

Now, I am thoroughly enjoying the silly conversations between my two 3 year olds.

Look Who's Talking Now | Twin Cities Moms Blog

As a talker myself, I should’ve known that I’d have chatty children and I was thrilled to hear about a collaborative campaign that Children’s Minnesota launched, along with the City of Minneapolis and collaborative community partners, “to boost the early brain growth and language skills of children from birth through age 3” (Children’s Minnesota, source). The campaign, titled “Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing” was created in an effort to close the “word gap”.

“The more words children hear and learn from parents and caregivers, the greater their chance of success through the preschool and kindergarten years, and the more benefits to their lifelong health and well-being.”

-Children’s Minnesota, source

Learn more about the Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing campaign. You can find valuable information along with tips and tools you can use to help boost your child’s vocabulary!

We all know Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of MN to be an incredible leader in healthcare, but they also have a wealth of resources to help you guide your child into the potential they already hold within them. You ARE your child’s greatest tool in learning and this month, we’re sharing a number of experiences from our team alongside the incredible amount of resources offered by Children’s. Find more information on the Children’s Minnesota website.

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