I had a lovely visit with my 10 month old grandson this past weekend. Watching him initiate communication with his parents and other adults and children gave me the focus for today's column.
The first time I saw him initiate communication was during a long ride in the car after picking up the family from the airport. He was playful, engaged, and happy for the first thirty minutes. After that he started to look more serious, maybe a little concerned as he sat in his car seat. He turned to his mother and opened and closed his fists a few times. “Oh, you would like some milk.” She acknowledged his communication and empathized with his desire to eat. “We will eat soon, we are almost there.” At ten months he was able to understand her awareness for his needs and to wait a little longer before eating.
The second time I realized he was communicating was during some floortime play with me. Whatever we were doing was good fun but suddenly he stopped playing and turned toward his daddy, reaching his arms out. “Oh, you would like to walk around.” His daddy helped him up and he happily cruised around the room with his dad.
Both examples required that the parents tune into the non-verbal communication that their child was giving. Long before the first words are spoken, a baby’s movement, gestures, pointing, facial cues, and even baby sign language can help parents understand what their little one is asking of them. When babies know their communication is understood, they do not have to resort to other ways of having their needs met.
Bake me a cake
As fast as you can!
Pat it, and prick it,
And mark it with a B.
Put it in the oven
For Baby and me!
This nursery rhyme is one of the familiar baby rhymes that can easily be extended and appropriate for preschoolers. It has a strong beat and rhythm so try some simple clapping variations. Use the first letter of each child’s name (even if it doesn’t rhyme!) to include each child personally in the chant.