Help your baby to listen and learn

There is so much to look at, listen to and experience during the first year of your little one’s life that you cannot blame them for being easily distracted. At the beginning of the year they are only able to focus on people and objects for very short periods of time.

However, during the course of the year, your baby develops joint focus (also referred to as joint attention). This is the ability to focus on the same object at the same time with another person.

By about five months, your little one will be most interested in external objects and events and about four months later they will interact with one other person – probably you. When your munchkin follows your eyes or a pointed finger to something interesting, they learn the connections between the words they hear and the object, event or concept it represents.

Your baby adores listening to the sound of your voice and looking at your face! During their first year they are especially interested in sights and sounds, so sing to them when they are in a calm, alert state. Whether you choose a lullaby or your favourite pop song, you will soon see your baby’s unique response. Encourage them to anticipate the song by pausing and then singing some of the words at a different volume or speed. You can also clap your hands, stomp your feet, bang a spoon on a hard surface or shake containers filled with beans or rice. When your baby is able to hold an object, let them join in the joyful noise and ‘sing’ along.

By Catherine Barry, a Mysmartkid expert, is a speech and language therapist.