Do you ever just stop and really listen to your surroundings? It’s kind of noisy. You might hear the sounds of music or television commercials, the humming of the refrigerator or air conditioner, birds singing, cars driving by, your baby babbling, wind blowing, a coffee maker brewing, the microwave beeping, someone talking, and more. Thankfully, as an adult, you know how to tune in to the sounds that matter most and tune out the sounds you don’t need to focus on. Babies, however, are still working on this skill.
Listen …. what does your baby hear? Like vision, at first, it is all a blur, until baby starts filtering out the unimportant sounds, and tuning in to the sounds that need attention.
Listen… what does your baby hear? Like vision, at first, it is all a blur. Babies start by hearing all the sounds around them, but learn to “tune out” what is not important, and to “tune in to” what should be attended to, by how we interact with them. The art of active listening is an incredible skill we can help them build that can impact their ability to be a good musician, student, and friend.
I hear a ______ . Pick out a sound in the environment, perhaps even the dishwasher. Exclaim, “Oh, I hear the dishwasher.” Pick up Baby and get closer to the dishwasher to truly listen to the sound. This can help baby learn what sounds to expect in her world, and learn to tune them out (or not give them so much attention, so new sounds are more likely to be attended to).
You hear a _______. Perhaps you see your child stop to listen to a new sound. Exclaim: “You hear the train going by.” If possible, try to move Baby to see where the sound is coming from. Imitate the sounds you hear.
I hear an instrument. In front of your child, place two instruments that have different timbres (types of sound), like a shaker and a bell. When they pick one up to play it, talk about what you hear, “I hear a bell… jingle, jingle, jingle. You are shaking the bell (or whatever action they use to explore it).”
I hear YOU, Tell Me More! Model and encourage active listening – and the art of conversation – by talking with your baby. Pause. Listen to your baby’s reply. Then respond by saying, “Tell me more,” or, “That sounds interesting.” Make eye contact and expect to hear more. What a joy for both of you.
You may want to capture this moment in time by writing down how your baby is enjoying this mutual listening:
- What new sounds is your baby recognizing?
- What sound startles your baby?
- Which sounds makes your baby look for the source?
- Whose voice captures their attention most?
- What is their favorite sound to make right now?
- Which instrument do they choose most?
- ??? Share more questions you can think of below.
Or capture their firsts in your baby’s journal…
- When did your baby first turn to look when their name was called?
- When did it seem your baby first responded to being talked to?
- What was the first word your baby recognized and acted upon when it was said?
- What was the first word you recognized the meaning, (even if it didn’t actually sound like the word).
- When did your baby start to say dada or mama?
- When did it first sound like your baby was singing?
- When did it first sound like your baby was matching your pitch?
- Which song did you first recognize they were singing?
- ??? Share more questions you can think of below…
Let’s share our questions, answers, and stories of our fascinating mutual listening with our babies in the comments or in our Facebook conversations.
Follow these links to learn more about Active Listening, it’s importance, and how to help your child develop this skill.