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Building Conversations
Talk About What Interests Your Baby
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mother and son with toyHow does your baby let you know what is interesting? Usually, babies look at, touch, grasp, listen to and chew on objects they like. They try to reach interesting objects, or light beams, or other babies. They laugh at unexpected actions and faces. They pay attention to what is interesting and new.

We know all about those things, but for babies, they are new and exciting. When you talk or sign about your baby's experiences while they are happening, then your baby will pay attention to you, too.

Do's
Don'ts
Provide information about the subject."Airplane. Up-up-up." Provide too much information."That's an airplane. It can fly high in the sky and up in the clouds."
Leave a space for another turn."Big airplane." Then wait expectantly for your baby to take a turn Decide what the baby's turn will be."Can you say, `up'? Let's say, 'up.'"
Support the child's topic.(baby reaches for a rattle) "Want your rattle?" (baby giggles in response to a game) - This signals mom or dad to play more. Change the subject.(baby reaches for the rattle) "Look…Here's a truck."
Encourage turns.(baby laughs at being jumped) "Jump again?" Take too many turns."You like to jump. Want to jump again? Say jump. Say it again. Want to jump?"

Dad playing with his daughter
click on image to view movie

Practice Example

Let's practice with more clips of moms, dads and babies. In each of the movies, you will see the "do's" in action. Can you pick them out? Each of the parents does a nice job of commenting on the baby's idea or action. You can practice by observing what the parent said and thinking about how it related to the baby's interest.

In the movie above, the dad sees that his little girl wants to play a familiar social game with him. Each time she giggles, he takes this as a signal that she wants the game to continue. He does not "drop the game" and call her attention to something else. He stays with her interest.

Mom comforting her daughter
Part of responding to your baby's interest involves reading her mood. The mom soothes her baby by talking about her owie. She then shifts to talking about what the baby is looking at (Bert!)
click on image to view movie
 

Mother and daughter
This mom watches closely what her daughter points to and does. That leads her to comment on the eyes and on "giving a kiss." Again, this supports the baby's topic of interest.
click on image to view movie