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Toddler - Week #58

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Week 58: Listening Attentively

By Meg Leonard, edHelperBaby

           Your 58-week-old's communication skills are rapidly developing. If she's speaking a few recognizable words, you may find her using these words often. If she isn't using recognizable words, then she is probably communicating with gestures and babbling. To encourage your baby's skills as a communicator, practice being a good listener. Demonstrate the art of conversation through modeling whenever possible.


The Art of Communication
           Your baby has been able to understand spoken language for a long time. At 58 weeks, he may only be able to say a few words, but he is able to comprehend many more. As your baby soaks up information about the world around him, he is learning social skills, such as how to have a conversation with another person. He is learning about taking turns and waiting for his turn to participate. You can help him practice this skill by engaging in conversations with him.


           Have conversations with your baby. If she is able to say recognizable words, then respond to these in conversation form. If she is babbling, then respond to her babbling just as you would to actual words. Let her speak, and wait for her to pause before you respond to her. Demonstrate the social graces involved in conversing. See how she responds to your response.


Fun with Baby Faces
    Book: My Baby and Me by Lynn Reiser and Penny Gentieu
       My Baby and Me is a story book that uses photographs to demonstrate interactions between toddler aged children and their infant siblings. The pictures are precious and the simple dialog that takes place between the older and younger siblings is very true to life. The toddler explains the difference between what he or she is able to do, in contrast with his or her sibling. The photos clearly illustrate the action that is described on each page.

       In keeping with the theme of conversation, you could use the children pictured on each page to demonstrate the concept of conversing. The dialog isn't really a conversation, but you can use your imagination and easily make up a suitable discussion between the two children. You and your baby will love the photos of the beautiful children. This is a nice, short book that you can share with your baby many times.


Real Life with Baby
           I had so much fun conversing with Mary during the course of the week! She doesn't say too many real words yet. At this time, her vocabulary is limited to Daddy, Mama, and ball. However, during the past week, her babbling increased tremendously. Whether we were in the car, at the dinner table, or just playing on the floor, she kept a running monologue. I would give anything to know what she was saying!

       When she paused in her babbling, I would respond to her. Sometimes, I babbled right back to her. That usually brought a smile to her face. At other times, I would respond incredulously by saying, "You don't say!" or "Are you telling Mommy the truth?" And, sometimes to entertain myself, I'd say nonsense things like, "No, Mary, you can't drive the car today." My real words didn't bring as much of a reaction to her as the babbling. She did wait her turn when we were having conversations. With the steady babbling that continued all week, I'm sure she will be blurting out more real words very soon.

       Mary loved My Baby and Me. I expected that she would, since she is drawn to other babies and photographs. We read it several times in one sitting for a few consecutive nights. We talked about the action in each photo. I described what the baby and toddler were doing while Mary stared wide-eyed at them. The toddlers in the book are more advanced than Mary and she is more advanced than the babies pictured. It makes me wonder if she is able to notice those details or if she just likes the words and pictures. In any case, this book was a hit with Mary this week!


Adult Conversation
           Maybe it has been a while since you have had a conversation with another adult that didn't revolve around your baby. Take the time this week to seek out conversation with another grown up. Set a time limit of 5-10 minutes for "baby talk" and then discuss other things in your life. While your baby is precious and possibly your primary focus, remember that you have other interests and important people in your life. Refresh yourself by taking time for some real conversation! To make sure you stay on track and don't gravitate towards baby talk, you may want to reconnect with a friend who doesn't have any children. If you are seeking adult conversation on a more regular basis, you may want to investigate opportunities in your area. You could join a book club or take a community education course in order to meet new people and expand your world.

       Whatever you decide to do, use this time to reconnect with your "pre-Mommy" self. You can later discuss your experience with your baby while practicing your conversation skills!


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