If there’s one invention moms all over the world would scramble to get, it would probably be a baby translator. Newborn babies cry all the time… can you imagine how much easier it would be to know right away what each cry means?
Only it doesn’t work that way. There are several reasons why your newborn baby is crying and part of the challenge of parenting lies in learning to understand these cries. Now, remember that this is the only way your baby can relay their needs to you, so your baby crying may not necessarily mean there’s anything wrong.
But even if you already know that, listening to your baby cry can be frustrating. However, there is a way of talking to baby, helping the both of you establish a deeper connection.
Sure, your newborn baby may still be too young to know how words and language work, but they are equipped to understand some nuances of communication. But what are these concepts and how do you use them to understand your baby better? Here are six ways to communicate with your newborn baby.
1. Facial Expressions
One of your newborn baby’s favorite things to look at is your face! They spend a lot of their observing the world around them, but you are the true apple of their eyes. Show your baby that the adoration is mutual by maintaining eye contact, smiling, and cooing.
As young as your baby is, they can already understand emotions and can grasp the emotion that you are trying to convey. So gaze at your baby lovingly and smile at them often. This way, you can also pay close attention to their facial expressions and decode their emotions.
Reading is one of the most important things you can do with your baby! Even if they are still too young to read or even understand words, reading books and stories to your baby results in many significant benefits like language and social skills development. Through reading, they can learn the art of listening and conveying emotions through speaking and intonation. Reading is also a good way to spend special time with your child. Win-win!
Another thing that you can do to jumpstart the communication process between you and your baby is imitating them. Imitation (which is also a vital learning tool for your baby) shows your baby that you are paying attention to what they are doing and saying. In other words, imitation is a great way to tell your baby that they are important!
You can imitate your baby’s goo-goo and ga-ga. If they respond by repeating their vocalizations or making another, then you are already making a two-way conversation! This teaches your baby that communication has a pattern and that everyone gets a turn to talk. You can also imitate their movements, gestures, and facial expressions for non-verbal communication.
We know how busy new parents are, so don’t fret if you can’t take time to sit down and read and talk to your baby every now and then. While we encourage doing the former, if you are busy at the moment, you can still communicate with your baby simply by narrating your day to them.
If your baby loves looking at your face, they also love listening to your voice! So talk a lot when they are awake and make sure you use a warm, loving voice. You can simply tell them that you are washing dishes or doing the laundry or vacuuming the floors.
If you are resting and not doing anything in particular, you can continue narrating by pointing at objects and naming them. The more you talk, the faster your baby can acquire language skills!
5. Songs and Lullabies
Don’t worry if you are not the world’s best singer. Your baby wouldn’t care! They simply love listening to your voice, no matter what you sound like. Take advantage of this special “power” and sing as much as you like. It will be helpful to sing nursery rhymes when you are playing and soothing lullabies when it’s time for your baby to sleep.
6. Baby Sign Language
Finally, there’s a communication approach that has become more popular among modern new parents, and this is the baby sign language. Baby sign language refers to the set of hand gestures that symbolize words, which you can teach your baby.
Similar to the American Sign Language, you have to have a consistent set of signs that correspond to words. You can teach your baby sign language by saying the word and making the corresponding sign at the same time, and then doing the action right after. For example, if you are teaching the sign for milk, then you have to say the word “milk,” do the gesture symbolizing “milk” at the same time, and then offer your baby milk right after.
It takes a lot of patience to teach baby sign language, but a lot of parents report success. It is best if you wait until your baby is around 4 months old to teach it.
Talking to your newborn baby may feel funny and awkward the first time you do it. But even if your baby does not talk back (and they won’t — at least, not yet), you can be sure that they are observing you and learning the ropes of proper communication. Best of all, the things on this list will make your newborn baby feel cherished and loved.