A big word – but so important in the life of a little baby + mother! A baby grows – fast – and the more communication you have with the baby from day one, the more response you’ll get in return as he grows.The first thing I’m going to say to all you wonderful mums of simply gorgeous babies is this: WHILE THE BABY IS AWAKE, PUT AWAY YOUR MOBILE PHONE, AND CLOSE THE IPAD. All that technical stuff can wait until your baby is fast asleep. IT’S NOT AS IMPORTANT AS YOUR BABY.
Communicating with your baby starts from the moment of birth – have you ever thought of this? Each and every mum will remember what you said to your baby the moment you saw him – and I’ll wager a bet that your facial expressions showed the tenderness and love you felt at that same moment. Your smiles, your tears of joy and of the pain you suffered during the delivery of this precious baby, your gentle hugs – holding tightly to that wet and wonderful baby that you and your partner have so eagerly waited to see. All these emotions and feelings, the touching and hugging are all forms of non-verbal communication.
Around 57% of communication is the words we speak. The remainder – 63% - is non verbal. This is what I have mentioned above – the hugs, kisses, the smiles, raising of eyebrows in surprise, the ooo’s and ahhhs, and as he spills a small quantity – or large – of his feed – the ‘oh dear me, with a shake of your head - these are all ways of communicating with your baby from day one and very soon – in a month and maybe a bit more (remember – not all babies are the same) you’ll be rewarded with some lop sided smiles – are they? – aren’t they? smiles.
As those first weeks pass, and you are talking softly to your baby about anything – yes – frogs are green – Daddy is at work – Grandma is coming and she is going to give you a big hug – I wonder where the cat is? – you can talk about anything. Your baby will be listening – and then let him have a turn! He’ll start making funny little noises – and you’ll agree with everything he says – and then let him say some more!
This is the beginning of an incredible relationship between you and your baby.
At the beginning, ‘chatting’ is very tiring for the baby as he is concentrating so hard while he is listening and replying. So after a short while he’ll probably be ready for a sleep. After having a good feed, another hug – then it’s time for a sleep. Tell him he needs a big sleep – and that all the babies in New Zealand are having a sleep – and the birds, and the cats and dogs – all the elephants are going to sleep. You can go on and on but he is swaddled, no wind and ready for a self settling sleep.
So, off you go and do something for yourself – put you feet up and have a big drink of water, so important for a good milk supply if you are breast feeding and then you can get your mobile out and check on all the ‘stuff’
As I said at the beginning of this blog – it is so important that you are not attached to you mobile phone at this period and in the months and early years to come PLEASE make sure that your mobile phone does not get in the way of your communicating.
He is the most important part of your life while he’s up and awake and you will be rewarded a million times over when your baby starts communicating with you.
Just today in the Mall, I saw a happy little toddler running next to his mother who was pushing an empty pram – the little toddler chatting away, dancing around his mum and the pram. Do you know what the mum was doing? Yes – mobile phone in hand checking or sending a txt. Missing out on some wonderful interaction and communication with her wonderful toddler.
If this sort of non communication continues the toddler/growing child will simply stop communicating because the mother is not responding. PUT THAT MOBILE PHONE AWAY.
When I had my babies – 3 under 3 years – and thank-goodness no mobile phones - I read to them from birth.
I remember a flat mate – a teacher – bringing a gift of baby books to the maternity hospital after the birth of baby no. 1. Each morning after the mid morning feed , out came the books and I remember ‘One fish-, two fish- red fish - blue fish’ Yes – Dr Seus.
The women I shared the ward with were astounded that I was reading to my 2 day old baby. “But – I said ‘ He can hear my voice.’
I read to my babies/pre schoolers every day – twice or three times a day and they loved that special time – listening intently, turning the pages and when I purposely put in the wrong word, they would immediately put me right, with indignation in their voices!
All three adult children are great readers – no kindle for them – they like proper books!
I cared for triplets and I encouraged the mum – an amazing mum where routine was the most important part of her life – to read to her babies. As they reached the crawling stage, she sat on the floor with the books and the babies crawled full steam ahead to get to her, sit beside her, turn the pages and listen to the stories. Each baby had a turn at sitting in the middle and it was a great sight to see how much they enjoyed that reading time. I’m sure those three babies all became good readers.
At bed-time, it is a great habit to get into to read that final story of the day to your baby/child.
It’s a calming part of the ‘going to bed’ routine. Dinner, then after 20 minutes to half an hour – a bath followed by the story. As the child grows old enough, put 3 or 4 books on the bed and let them chose 1 or 2. You can make the story as short or long as you chose! Lots of non-verbal communication with your eyes, your voice, surprise, shock, humour – whatever the story is about, make it more exciting.
Babies will watch intently at your facial expressions so become a clown and and make communicating fun.
I live in Tauranga and in 1987 we had a VERY big earthquake. Nothing like Christchurch, but very frightening. I was assisting in the care of twins and a small child of around 3 yrs. As the house was shaking all around us, the little boy was looking at his mother – we were each feeding a baby – and the mother was showing absolute horror on her face.
I said, with a big smile on my face – ‘Janet – someone is watching you. Come on – lets go down to the toilet’ I picked this tip up from the big cyclone which hit Darwin in the 70’s where a family survived by going into a small toilet and the debris fell over the top and they were safe in a very small space.
So off we ran – babes in arms with their bottles and into the toilet. The babies, of course, had no idea what was going on around them – and when the shaking finished we returned to the lounge room.
Then came the after shock. ‘Quick’ said the little 3 yr. old Lets go back to the toilet’ !! Just a lot of fun. What I am getting at here is that the little boy was taking on board the look of shock and horror – non-verbal on his mum’s face. It’s worth remembering just in case you are in a similar situation. You are the leader – you are the mum.
I was in a café recently waiting for a take-away coffee and watching a Dad with his 3 year old son sitting at a table, Dad with a coffee – little boy watching a small mobile device. I had a little peep and it was some sort of childs’ entertainment. Dad was reading a magazine. No communication whatsoever between to two.
What a waste of precious communication time and the beach was less than 10 minutes away. Another wasted opportunity of a chance to have a little game on the beach, a paddle, a jump off a washed up log – so much – no charge.
On Anzac Day following a service I attended, I thought it would be nice to round off the morning with a bundle of fish and chips – a treat for me.
Here, waiting for their fish and chips was a Dad and two sons – 4 years and twenty = months. On the wall was a chart showing a great variety of fish caught in New Zealand water. There was a long stool beside the poster – up got the two boys and their Dad pointed to the fish, told then the names – talked about going fishing in a boat, etc. etc. What a great conversation and the boys listening, pointing to the fish and finally the older boy jumped off the long stool to open the door for his mum. You could see what the toddle was thinking, wanting to follow his brother by jumping off the stool too – but fortunately he thought better of it!
No mobile phones, beautiful, polite and happy children who learned a lot that morning while waiting for their fish and chips!