Building Conversations

Communication starts the moment your baby is born. As you cuddle your little one, you let the baby know, "I love you. I will keep you safe and warm." The process of learning language starts within healthy relationships in early infancy.

Experts say that how you connect with your baby helps the baby feels secure and learn building blocks for communication.

It's All About Connecting!

In the early weeks and months of your baby's life, you and your baby will make many discoveries about how to connect and communicate.

  • Enjoyable social interactions are the first step in your communication journey together.
  • Your animated face and voice will bring consistent smiles from your child.
  • Your little one will look into your eyes and watch intently as your facial expressions change.

Enjoy these special moments and know that this sets the stage for communication!

Early Steps in Communication Development

The First 8 Months

    • Babies are learning how to pay attention to those around them and how to engage in social interaction with others.
    • Interactions we think of as "baby games" (e.g., ‘peek-a-boo’, ‘pat-a-cake’) are essential for getting communication started.
    • When babies engage with others, they respond with warmth, smiles and an expectation that "this is going to be fun."
    • This happens as early as three to four months of age and makes parenting a rewarding adventure.

Interact Like You Would With Any Baby

You might be thinking…."what is so special about all of this? Isn't this what moms and dads do with any baby?" You are right. Communication with your baby who is deaf or hard of hearing will start in much the same way as it does with any baby. The message you want to communicate with your face, voice and body is, "we love you…let's have some fun together."

Connect Using "WEE" Steps

  • Watch your baby's mood closely.
    • What is your baby's mood? Try to get into a rhythm that matches your baby's mood.
    • If the baby fusses, you can respond with a sympathetic face and soothing voices.
    • If the baby smiles, use an animated face and voice in response.
  • Encourage the baby to look at your face and listen to you.
    • Use varied facial expressions and play social games that build excitement and help your baby anticipate ‘what’s next’.
    • Vary your vocal inflections (like we normally do in baby talk) to encourage your baby to begin to listen to your voice.
  • Enjoy your baby. Parents tell us that it can be hard to focus on typical baby routines when they are worrying about their infant’s hearing.
    • It can really help to talk with other parents and discover the enjoyment they have found as they gain more perspective on the baby being deaf or hard of hearing.
    • Other parents can reassure you that "it's going to be all right."
    • Focusing on this message, you can relax a bit and enjoy your little one.

Here are examples of a mom and then a dad playing with their hearing 8-month-old girl. In the first example, notice how the mom draws little Signe into a form of peek-a-boo, using the shape sorter lid to encourage the baby to look at her.  Signe takes her turn by smiling and watching intently.  That signals mom to continue the game.  Notice that as soon as Signe turns away and loses interest, mom follows her lead and allows the game to change.  This helps establish the beginnings of back and forth communication. You can sense the enjoyment and warmth between them.

Next, let's peek in on dad.  He gets conversations going by responding to Singe's mood expressed in her vocalization.  He says, "You sound happy to see her."  Then he patiently waits a moment, and she responds with another vocalization.  He "answers" her by responding to her vocalization.  Turns go back and forth, they are having fun.  Both mom and dad are connecting using the WEE steps.


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