Year One – Post 6 | Baby Hears/Baby Says
Babies need to hear in order to process the sounds all around them. Make sure your baby has had an infant hearing screening. The screening exam is not painful and it lets the parent know that sound is being recorded in the infant’s brain.
The two most common methods are the Auditory Brain Stem Response Test or the Otoacoustic Emissions Test. These tests are being conducted in 99 percent of hospitals and it has identified children with a hearing loss early. If a child is identified before six months of age, normal speech and language skills can develop.
In the first few months of life, babies make many different sounds – sounds that are used in their own native languages and sounds that are not. When baby coos, talk and sing to your baby – you’re teaching her the sounds of your language. You are also teaching her that language is pleasurable and meaningful. The first sounds you will hear will be cooing and gurgling. They are the easiest to make and they sound like: “oo,” “ah,” or “ee” besides a gurgle-like “soft g” sound. At six to nine months, babies begin to distinguish sounds that are used in their native language and will tend to strengthen the neural pathways that identify those sounds.
If you are bilingual, don’t worry, it may take your baby a little longer to sort out what sounds go with each language, but by the time your child is three year old, they should have it figured out as long as you are speaking and they are hearing each language approximately 20 hours a week in the home or at day care. If you see it is frustrating your child, you may want to have one person in the home speaking one language and another person speaking the other language to help your baby sort out the speech sounds and vocabulary. Learning two languages increases cognitive flexibility in your baby, but make sure the child learns the language by caregivers and not videos.
Babies rely on facial expressions and body language besides immediate responses to increase their sound and vocabulary. Your baby maybe can’t understand your words in the beginning, but they know what you are feeling (good or bad) by the tone of your voice, your facial expressions and body language. If you are stressed out—you are stressing out your baby! Get support through family, friends, neighbors, support groups, churches and health care agencies.
– Kathryn Gruhn, MA CCC-SLP author of My Baby Compass