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Monday, February 6, 2017

Reading and learning with our children


Kari Hagen, Alberta Health Services - The first few years of a baby’s life are very important for brain development. There are many things we as parents and caregivers can do to help stimulate the baby’s brain. For a newborn baby we can read stories or sing songs. We can hold the baby close to our face so they can see how we move our mouth and lips when we talk to them. When we do this, baby may attempt to copy our movements with his/her lips and mouth. We can also comfort our baby by cuddling and showing affection.

One mom I talked to said that when she had her first baby, it felt strange talking to her baby because she felt that sometimes there was not much back and forth communication. I believe this may be a concern for some, and it might limit how much we interact with our children. Interaction and talking to a baby might be much simpler than we think. Here are some examples of how we can interact with our baby:

  • When the baby smiles at us, we smile back. 
  • When the baby cries, we try to find out what baby needs, for example is he hungry, does he need a dry diaper or does he need to cuddle. 
  • When the baby makes sounds, we answer by making similar sounds or by talking. 
  • Sometimes we might overlook some of the opportunities we have to interact with our baby or child. We may be busy and miss the signs the baby or child gives us. We can help this by slowing down and noticing what they are interested in and be aware of the different ways they are communicating to us. After we make these observations we can respond, and a natural back-and-forth interaction/conversation can happen.

Doing an activity for 15 minutes a day can help our children’s literacy skills and brain development. Below are some activities to do with baby or child at home:
  • Reading stories 
  • Acting out a story we read with our child 
  • Singing songs, such as the ABC song 
  • Repeating nursery rhymes 
  • Talking about what we are doing together 
These activities help the child to have fun with words and language. Parents and caregivers also enjoy the activities while supporting the development of baby’s language skills and brain development.
Best Babies and Building Blocks in Medicine Hat, Brooks, Bow Island, Oyen and surrounding areas, and Families First and First Steps in Lethbridge, Fort Macleod, Crowsnest Pass, Taber, Milk River, Raymond and surrounding areas.

For parenting/child development programs/information in your area contact: Kari Hagen, Health Promotion Facilitator, Alberta Health Services, kari.hagen@ahs.ca

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