Baby’s five senses are an integral part of development. They are the gateway into baby’s mind, and interactive play should involve all of baby’s senses every day. Sounds are a big part of playful interaction with baby and will enhance baby’s language, personality, and social development.
Using your voice to connect with your newborn
Babies can hear your voice even from inside the womb. The more you talk to baby, both before and after birth, the better connected baby will feel to you. Your voice tones and patterns will imprint themselves in baby’s mind, and he will learn to recognize them as a source of comfort. Here are some ways you can use your voice and other sounds to get closer to baby in the early months and stimulate baby’s hearing and social development:
Take advantage of the “quiet alert” state.
Newborns spend most of their time sleeping and eating. But there are some moments each day that baby will be awake and alert, hungry for some interaction. This is the perfect time to gaze into baby’s eyes and speak and sing to baby.
Nestle baby on your chest.
A favorite way to soothe baby is to lay baby against your bare chest and quietly hum or sing to baby. Dad’s deep voice is perfect for this. The soft vibrations of your voice will comfort baby.
Help baby track sounds.
You may worry that baby doesn’t seem to respond to sounds in the first few weeks. Don’t worry. Baby IS taking it all in, he just isn’t mature enough to show it. Keep up the talking. It IS sinking in. Baby is hearing you and getting to know your voice.
Between 3 and 4 weeks, your may start to see your baby turn toward the sound of your voice. This is when the fun really begins. Softly speak to baby while baby is looking away from you. Baby’s head will slowly turn and connect with the source of your voice. Around 2 months of age baby will start regarding your face intently as you speak.
Interacting with baby using hearing and sound through the first year
Baby’s hearing development and skills progress throughout the first year. By four months most babies will accurately and consistently turn toward sounds. Between 6 and 9 months, baby may begin to imitate the fun sounds you make, and begin to recognize favorite sounds from various toys. Between 9 and 12 months baby will begin to understand simple language and recognize their name when called. Through the toddler and preschool years, kids will begin to recognize favorite tunes and songs, and will learn to sing and clap along with you. There are numerous ways you can use sounds while playing with your baby that will specifically enhance this development:
- Gently shake baby’s favorite rattle out of her line of vision and watch her turn to locate the sound.
- Show baby how to hug a favorite stuffed toy to activate the musical sounds.
- Toy animals that make the right sounds when squeezed are perfect for teaching baby animal names and noises.
- Make songs a daily part of your play together. Sing and clap baby’s favorites.
- Make special note of outside sounds that you and baby hear. When you hear a siren, airplane, or car horn, repeat the sound to baby and point to where it’s coming from. Baby will start to notice these sounds and point excitedly on his own.
- Toy instruments and musical play gyms are perfect for stimulating fine motor skills. Show baby how to push the buttons to activate the musical notes and sounds.