As much as we like it to be, motherhood never gets easier. A new mother cribs for the sleepless nights and waits for the day her 2 hourly breastfeeding sessions will get over. Soon she starts worrying about the baby who has started turning and rolling and is starting to crawl, and once the baby starts to really move then you can forget all rest and peace for a good time. And if that’s not enough most mothers are constantly worrying about teaching their developing child things like animals names and sounds, body parts, alphabet etc.
A first time mother most times is clueless as to how to begin teaching such simple things to her little one – what words to use and how to teach and more importantly how to know that the child is understanding it! We may be great career women but our confidence does shake a little when dealing with the most important person in our life. With a little patience and practice everyone learns the ropes and becomes a guiding light to a friend, relative or neighbor who goes down the road of motherhood after us.
What I am going to share here is no rocket science and no magic formula that will make your baby learn everything you want him to, overnight. Each baby is different and each mother’s way of handing her baby is unique so some babies respond immediately and some take a while. While it is important to keep teaching, its equally important to do it repeatedly without getting irritated or annoyed when your baby takes times.
Most babies respond very well to music and actions so the first way of teaching can be through action rhymes. You don’t need to sing very well or know dance, just follow the words and do simple actions. Babies are fascinated by sounds, especially their mother’s and love everything that moves. You can pick simple rhymes from the internet, youtube can help you pick your favorite rhythm and some videos will even teach you actions. My favorite action rhymes when my daughter was younger were:
- Twinkle twinkle little star
- Snow flakes, snowflakes
- Incy wincy spider
- Hickory dickory dock
- Five little monkeys
- Head shoulder knees and toes
I introduced rhymes to my daughter when she was only a few days old. I used to play rhymes on my phone as I gave her a massage every morning and sang along. This kept me in a rhythm as well as made massage time more fun. As she got older I used more of actions as I sang the rhymes, and those helped me through many a meal times when my daughter started solids. A few months down the line she was doing the actions as I sang. It took lot of singing and acting and but she picked up when she was ready.
The second and most important rule is talk, talk, talk. Talk as much as you can about whatever you are doing. Babies as little as few months can’t speak but they sure can listen and are learning to process. By talking you are giving them exposure to new words and sounds and if you do the talking with gestures and actions you are teaching them more. But please avoid baby talk. Most parents make this mistake out of love but it makes it difficult for the child to pick up the right sound of a word. Whenever you talk and whatever you say to the child should be spoken as if you are talking to another adult. This way when the child starts to talk he will speak clearly and you will save yourself much time and effort trying to correct his speech.
Kids around 9-10 months can’t yet speak but they certainly follow the gestures. You can begin teaching body parts at this stage. The best time to teach is while giving massage or while giving him a bath. All the while say things like… now mumma will wash your hands… now lets put water on your hands… look how lovely hands you have… just make up whatever you can and teach one or maximum 2 parts one day to begin with. As with every other thing, keep patience. They maybe surprised in the beginning as to what you are trying to do but slowly they will get the hang of it and start responding. Its best not to rush kids as they sense our eagerness and are discouraged by the pressure we put on them by being impatient.
As your child gets older, talk to them about things around you, show them picture books and read out stories. Play with him making animal sounds and tell the names of animals as you do that so they can relate. Whenever you start a new activity, try not to overload the child with information and begin with a small number always. Give your child lots of love and encouragement and long enough time to respond.