By Raising Children Network
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Connecting with your baby means communicating with your eyes, your voice, your facial expressions and some comforting cuddles.
Mother connecting with baby
 

What to expect

You’re really getting to know your baby’s personality and temperament now, including when and how she tries to communicate and connect with you.

  • From 2-6 months, your baby will begin to engage in two-way interaction. Her language skills are developing now, even before she utters her first word.
  • From 6-9 months, your baby is developing ideas about who she is. She’s working out the differences between parents, caregivers, strangers, adults and children. She has positive and negative emotions and is beginning to express them. She’s also getting interested in communication that’s more than two-way – that is, communication that involves a third person, or is about a third person or object.
  • By nine months, your baby’s memory is improving. She’s getting attached to people and objects – especially the ones she spends the most time with.
Positive attention helps your baby learn and develop. Understanding your child’s needs and responding appropriately are the keys to developing a good relationship with your child. It’s a big job, but there are things you can do to stay positive. Try using everyday moments and activities like changing nappies, feeding and bath time to talk, play and connect.

Communicating with your baby

Your baby communicates by looking at you, smiling, gesturing and making sounds. You communicate with him using face and eye contact, talking, singing, smiling – and lots of cuddles, of course!

‘Hellooo sweeetie baaabeee’
The special way we talk to babies is called ‘parentese’. Babies love it. They prefer the sing-song tone of parentese to plain adult tones. In fact, this animated, lilting speech, with exaggerated facial expressions, might help babies learn the sounds of language.

Faces and eye contact
Babies spend their days looking at people’s faces and listening to them talk. Your baby loves watching how your face reacts to something she’s done.

Researchers say this helps your baby understand the world and form relationships. When your baby deliberately catches your eye, you can look right back into her eyes. And keep maintaining that eye contact until she looks away. When she makes noises, you can encourage her.

Smiling, nodding and encouraging your baby’s abilities (‘What did you say?’, ‘Aren’t you talking well!’) all help your baby to keep communicating.

Talk, baby, talk
As your baby moves closer to 12 months, he might start to babble. When he begins to make lovely little sounds (‘ba ba ba’, ‘da da da’), you can try repeating them back. Try not to interrupt until he’s finished with his ‘sentence’.

Repeating what you say to your baby ( ‘Are you hungry?’ ‘You’re hungry, aren’t you?’ ‘Ohhh, I’m hungry!’) can teach your baby what words mean. You can also try games like ‘peekaboo’. These can help your baby learn that language is based on taking turns.

Reading body language

Babies are also able to speak with their bodies. Watching what your baby does and how she responds to what you do will help you understand your baby’s body language.

Chatting and singing as you go about your daily activities helps your baby learn and develop. Talking to him teaches him about language – so the more talk, the better.

Connecting with your baby

Babies can recognise and respond to emotions from a very young age. You can encourage your baby’s emotional development by interacting with your baby, and letting your feelings show on your face. Read more about connecting with your baby.

Attachment
Attachment is the pattern of relationship between babies and their carers. It helps babies feel safe and free to learn and explore. A secure attachment in the first year of life has been shown to have a positive effect on social, emotional and mental development.

All babies show attachment behaviour. This is when they try to get comfort and protection from you. Your baby might do it by cooing, crawling towards you, reaching out her arms to you and so on. When you respond to these cues, you help your baby bond and attach to you.

Stranger and separation anxieties
On the flipside of attachment, many babies are afraid of people they don’t know so well (stranger anxiety), or of being apart from their primary carers (separation anxiety). For most babies and young children, these anxieties pass with time.

You can help baby understand that when things or people (like you) go away, they usually come back. To do this, give your baby lots of physical attention and verbal reminders of where you are as you move around a room. A fun game of ‘peekaboo’ can also help.

A stressful day at work might be followed by a new set of tasks and demands when you get home. Our article has some ideas to help you leave work behind and be present with your child.

Video: Special moments with your children

Download Video  21mb

‘Showing love is easy,’ say the parents in this short video.

Mums and dads talk about special moments with their children. They describe how praise and encouragement make their children feel loved, safe and secure. They talk about the positive impact of these moments on both parents and children.

 
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  • Newsletter snippet: Baby connecting and communicating: in a nutshell

     

    By Raising Children Network

    Use your voice, your eyes and plenty of cuddles to communicate with your baby. It will help her develop and learn about language, relationships and the world around her.

    You can ‘talk’ to your baby by:

    • using sweetly pitched, sing-song cooing (‘parentese’) to help your baby learn language sounds
    • with exaggerated facial expressions
    • using plenty of eye contact
    • smiling, nodding and using encouraging words
    • repeating any baby sounds your baby might make
    • repeating questions or statements to help her learn what words mean.

    This article is an extract only. For more information visit raisingchildren.net.au/connecting__communicating/babies_connecting.html

    Sourced from the Raising Children Network's comprehensive and quality-assured Australian parenting website, www.raisingchildren.net.au.


 
 
 
  • Last Updated 07-12-2011
  • Last Reviewed 25-07-2012