How to help your child talk and grow smarter: listening skills in his first year.

Your baby learns to talk by listening to you speaking. He needs to hear you clearly and concentrate on what you say. He may have perfect hearing, but if your words are drowned out by noise from the TV, he can’t pick out what you say. Turn all external noises off for at least an hour every day.

Children raised in noisy places find it hard to concentrate. They may find it hard to sleep properly, and they never learn to listen carefully and concentrate on one thing at a time.
Help your child learn to listen, and he will pay attention and concentrate. Knowing how to concentrate stands him in good stead when he goes to school.

Soothing noises
Learning to listen is a skill that your child begins to learn at birth, when he turns his head to your voice. Notice how your quiet voice soothes him, while loud noises startle him and may make him cry. He may like to listen to the washing machine or vacuum cleaner, as the quiet rumbles they make sound a little like the noises he heard before he was born, and he will love to listen to you talking or singing quietly.

Over-stimulation
While your baby is tiny, too many new sights, sounds and people can over-stimulate him. Be prepared to take him to a quiet place and soothe him if he becomes fractious. Everything seems new and strange to him, and he needs plenty of peaceful sleep. While he sleeps, his brain busily builds connections and helps him to make sense of the world.

As your baby grows, he spends longer periods awake and alert. Make sure he hears your voice, not voices from the television. He learns best from you, because you can adjust your voice and your words to his needs. Spend time with him and let the housework wait.

First year
Notice how your baby listens attentively to the noises around him during his first year. He may stop what he’s doing to listen to a new sound, and turn to search for something interesting, such as the sound of another baby. Watch how quickly he turns to hear a quiet rustle of paper behind his back.

From around six months, he’ll recognize familiar words. When you say the name of a family member, he’ll turn to look at her. He’ll enjoy the sound of his own voice and make repetitive babbling nonsense sounds, such as ‘ba-ba-ba’. He’ll love to spend time with you, copying your babbling noises and laughing with delight.

Have you spotted your baby looking at you when you say his name? Congratulations, you’ve taken an important step together.

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