Your Child's Lead
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want to respond to your baby's communication, but you aren't
sure what kind of response to make. The best response follows
your child's lead.
Babies and adults are sometimes interested
in different things. A mother wants to give her baby a juice
cup and talk about drinking, but the baby may at first be
fascinated by the condensation running down the outside
of the cup. "Wet. Your cup is wet," or "The
drop is going down, down, down," is closer to the baby's
thought than "Drink your juice," or "This
is a cup."
Babies are curious. They are constantly exploring their
world. When we try to get their attention to talk about
our own ideas, we are taking them away from their interests.
They may even be confused if they are thinking about one
idea, and getting communication about a different one!
Babies like to communicate about their interests. We don't
want to do all of the communicating - that would be like
"hogging the ball." Instead, when we see what
a baby is attending to, and communicate about that, we teach
the baby to start a conversation with us, and learn more
about that very interesting drop of water.
One way to be sure that you and your
baby are on the same wavelength is to establish joint attention.
If your baby points to something, you point, too, before
you try to add to the communication. If your baby looks
at something and laughs, you look and laugh. If your baby
vocalizes at a teddy bear, you do it, too. Then you can
add a language turn. You let your actions say, "Your
idea was interesting to both of us."
Read about these situations and choose a parent response
that follows the child's lead.
Baby: touches wet high chair
tray after it
is wiped off.
a. Mother touches the tray, and then says, "You spilled
b. Mother touches the tray and then says, "It's wet."
c. Mother says, "Does it feel wet?"
d. Mother says, "Don't touch."
Feedback: In b, Mother showed
the baby that she shared the idea, and then talked directly
about feeling the tray.
on image to view movie
Practice Example #2
This eight-month-old baby is playing with a toy and she
pushes the swing while vocalizing. How does her mother respond?
a. Looks at the swing with her daughter
b. Says, "push it again."
c. Says, "swinging" (follows her lead).
d. Both a and c.
If you picked "d," you are
correct. This mom did a nice job of looking at what her
daughter looks at (joint attention) and talking about her
baby's interest. It is as simple as that.
on image to view movie
Practice Example #3
In this next example, you will see a two-year-old who has
bilateral hearing loss. He is playing with a playhouse.
Notice how he makes comments about what he is seeing. How
does his mother respond?
a. She talks about her own interests.
b. She repeats what the little boy says and says a little
c. She smiles and shows him she understands.
d. She looks at what he is looking at.
e. b, c, and d.
Did you pick "e"? Good -
that is correct. Mom uses his idea and his words. She stretches
his idea a little (kitty
yes that's a kitty). This
looks like a volleyball game as they comment back and forth.
They have nice turn taking because mom is following his