I had a lovely day yesterday, which included a mix of groups and individual clients. I enjoyed all of it but the hi-light of the day was a group of new mums and their babies. They were still at the stage where age is measured in weeks and the mums were still adapting to the enormous change to their lives while regularly swapping their various birthing stories.
The purpose of the session was to discuss 'Baby Talk' which is a series of sessions to go through important topics surrounding interaction and a baby's communication development. The first session looks at how old the baby should be before you start talking to him or her. All the mums there were adamant that it should be immediately. We discussed how new research has proved what we suspected, that they must be able to hear before they are born. A new born can identify the voice of his mother, over others, immediately after birth according to new research from the US.
The reaction of these mothers was very refreshing! We don't run too many classes like this one unless they are commissioned by midwives or other health professionals as many feel that there's no point in talking to a baby 'as they wont talk for ages'. However, babies need to be talked to to trigger the area of the brain responsible for communication and also the centre for interaction, empathy and social skills. If they do not receive this in the first year then there are long term implications.
It is very worrying that many children today are not experiencing adequate interaction. I observed 6 young mothers last week with toddlers in pushchairs. I was waiting for a fiend who was running late so was parked at the side of a road in a housing estate. I saw no interaction between mother and child whatsoever. 2 were texting, 1 was on the phone and the others had i-pod ear-pieces in! Where was the opportunity for communication there?
It not just a specific class problem as the Daily Telegraph reported last week that children of middle class families are suffering too from lack of attention by parents who are working longer hours.
The 2011 Hello Campaign aims to share with the general public how amazing human communication is and bring attention to what we should be doing. This month' s theme is don't take communication for granted and next month it will be all about the fact that 'babbling babies don't turn into talkative toddlers by chance, it requires help and encouragement'.
The Baby Talk sessions will celebrate this and we will discuss other issues such as the use of dummies, forwards facing push-chairs, nursery rhymes and TV watching. As I've said 100 times before, human communication is fantastic, fascinating, fabulous.... there are insufficient superlatives to describe it and yet we do take it for granted!!!