Teaching your Baby

Don't be afraid to make silly sounds

As the mother of 12 children, I have noticed again and again that infants are in a constant state of active learning. I try to foster this natural leaning toward constant absorption by providing ample and appropriate stimulation for my newborn babies. I have a creative bent, I write, sing, and act; making me the perfect foil for a baby's desire to learn. I love the sounds of words and am not afraid to make silly sounds. I like to make up songs and in fact, I composed songs for each of my children, complete with lyrics.

Be a creative database

It's important to realize that your interaction with your baby is, in large measure, his greatest store for the purpose of informational input. It serves as a kind of database for his internal computer. Anything goes. Sing, make weird noises, shake your head to a beat, and screw up your face into unbelievable expressions. Knock yourself out, and don't worry about what others think. You are teaching your baby with every move you make. By being creative, you are allowing him to feel free of shame as he learns to be a creative person.

Show excitement

One thing I like to do is to repeat the same sequence of sounds over and over again, and then, without warning, make a minimal change to the sequence. Even a very young newborn will catch the change in pattern and show excitement. At some point in his young life, he will surprise you by belly-laughing when you change the series of sounds you are making.

Later on, your baby will be ready for peek-a-boo, which teaches, after some time, that items out of his vision still exist. Psychologists call this object permanence. For newborns, it's out of sight, out of mind. When you leave the room, infants have no concept that you still exist. However, newborns are receptive to other, non-visual cues that you give them, even without your intention.

One cue that your baby receives from you without your awareness is your scent. Place a piece of cloth close to your body, for instance in the hollow of your armpit and leave it there over the course of a day. Pin the cloth to the baby's clothing with a baby safety pin. This will help your infant to cry less often. Your smell is known to your baby from very early on, and he associates your scent with a state of comfort.