Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thinking Thursday: Little Conversationalist

Looking for something ELSE to do with your children today? Check out my guest post for Operation Playtime on Play Activities' blog.

When do babies become little conversationalists? How young are they when they begin to understand the social cues of turn-taking in conversation? I had forgotten about this fun stage in babies' development until just a couple weeks ago. We were videoing a song for Musical Monday and after the song Elli starting "talking" to me. Check out the video; it's really darling!

We are social creatures. From birth we make eye contact with and talk to our babies. Our unspoken goal is to get that smile, to evoke a response. After months of hard work, protoconversation as the experts call it, babies finally start to get it! Around 4 months babies start to initiate interactions and conversations. They are learning to wait for you to pause before they reply with their own actions or sounds. This concept of turn-taking really develops between 4 and 6 months. Watch for your baby to try to get your attention to begin a conversation with you.

When Sammi was about this age Brent would take her with him when he got home from work and went to change out of his scrubs. He would set Sammi on the bed and get down by her and start talking to her. He would ask her about her day and she would flail her arms and squeal. I would sometimes watch these conversations hidden by the door. I can't tell you how many times I felt like I understood the stories she was telling him. It really was like she was recounting our day to him.

I think we often overlook babies' purposeful actions because we don't realize they are purposeful. They develop skills so quickly it's hard to keep up with them sometimes! But by knowing what cues to watch for, we can pick up on their intentions and engage with them in fun, meaningful ways.


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