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Enjoying Your Babies Before They Speak
There are many research findings about babies before they learn to speak that have to do with moral behavior, infant-mother attachment, language, and other’s emotions. Learning to observe these changes helps mothers and fathers enjoy their babies as they observe their growing capabilities.
A fetus absorbs in the intrauterine environment the rhythm of a mother’s voice. It’s been discovered that vowel sounds in a mother’s speech are the loudest bits of sound the fetus locks into. So a newborn is already primed to distinguish their mother’s voice from that of others.
Attentive vocal fathers can quickly gain importance as well by singing and talking frequently to their newborns. The quiet low sound of the father’s voice often calms a baby when a mother is having difficulty quieting her crying baby. However, it has also been found that infants who were studied wearing sound-recording vests revealed that the babies heard three times more words from their mothers than their fathers.
The stranger’s voice becomes the novelty that babies also turn to being able to differentiate the parents’ voices they have become accustomed to. Babies are drawn to novelty, which is important for parents to know, so they don’t feel rejected if the turns away from them to a new voice.
Motherese is the sing-song rhythm that babies enjoy. Fathers of course can do the same and other people in the environment seem to naturally catch on to this manner of speaking that leads to a baby cooing after a few months. Cooing is the beginning of language, a milestone.
Researchers in Sweden and Washington state observed newborns exposed to different languages. When the newborns had pacifiers that were wired to a computer they sucked longer when they heard their native language indicating they were able to differentiate the two languages.
Babies are primed to pick up all different kinds sounds that are different in different languages. By using our native tongue we actually limit what they learn. In bilingual households, babies are introduced to more than one language and can easily pick up both languages as they learn to speak.
Most babies being their first words around the one year mark, however, they can have the ability to learn sign language at six months. Furthermore, it has been found that babies read lips when they are learning to talk. The gazing baby shifts to a baby who watches other’s mouths.
t has been found that by five months babies sense others feelings. A study revealed that by five months babies turn to a monitor with a smiling baby after hearing sounds of a happy baby and turned to the video of the frowning baby after hearing sad sounds of an unhappy baby. Apparently the three and a half month old babies were less capable of making this differentiation.
Babies are also known to be very sensitive to mothers’ moods such as anxiety and depression. It’s as if they absorb their mothers feelings and become downcast and may cry in response to these emotions in their mothers.
Babies cannot understand morality in an abstract sense which comes years later. However researchers have found that babies under two years preferred a puppet who helped another other puppet open a box over a puppet that slammed the box on another puppet. Thus these babies had the ability to differentiate helpful or “good” behavior from unhelpful or “bad” behavior.
These research findings are generally limited to small samples, but they are intriguing and give parents an opportunity to observe their babies more closely and have the chance to enjoy their infants new and growing capabilities.