Making the Most of Family Experiences

Family experiences may be familiar, like holidays or a birthday. They can also be new for everyone in the family, such as a vacation to a new destination or moving to a new home or city.

When the experience is new to your baby or young child, you can watch carefully to see what draws your baby's attention. For example, every family has its own way of celebrating the holidays:

  • Do you decorate your house? Wear special clothes? Prepare special foods? Sing special songs? Go special places?
  • Are there bright colors and new faces to attract your baby's attention?
  • Are some of the traditional characters a little frightening?

Learning about Family Traditions

Even though we know all about these things as adults, your baby is probably not ready to learn everything. All children learn more about family traditions each time they are experienced.  

This year, your baby looks and listens. Next year, your baby will be a toddler, and interested in things to touch and taste.

Incorporate Language Development

As your baby grows up, the routines of the holiday, the details, and the language, will become important. Follow your baby's lead for now; name the interesting things to look at, and the interesting sounds to hear. Listen and look together. Include your baby in the celebration to lay a foundation for next year.

Learning about Family Relationships

When relatives and good friends visit, you have the chance to introduce your baby to new people who will be important later on.

  • You also have the chance to help these extended family members to become comfortable with your baby as a whole person, who happens to be deaf or hard of hearing
  • You can answer their questions and explain your communication, so that when they interact with the baby, both parties are comfortable.
  • Help your little one learn the names for these important people.
  • Use photos on your phone or in an album to revisit the event and talk about those family members.

Learning about Family Changes

Sometimes a major experience is a change for everyone.  Moving or going on a vacation to a new place can be stressful as well as fun.

  • Babies know when the adults around them are feeling hurried, stressed, or upset.
  • Relax your body, and use your face to show excitement, anticipation, and calm.
  • Because deaf or hard of hearing babies may have only partial access to the subtle messages in your voice, you want to use your face and body to communicate.
  • See what catches your baby's attention and communicate about it!

Learning about Small Changes 

Remember that minor experiences, like going to the grocery store, church or library, or having a baby-sitter are still a change in routine.  

  • Changes are wonderful opportunities to engage in conversation. 
  • Your baby will find some way, with or without spoken or signed words, to let you know what is new and interesting.
  • Remember to respond.