Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hey, Dads. Let's talk.

I fondly recall my husband holding our son, smiling at him and saying over and over again: "Da-da. Da-da. Da-da. Da-da." Our son smiled at him and laughed. And then, when he was six months old, our son said his first word: "Mama."

My husband and I try to be excellent conversational partners for our son. It was no surprise when he became an early talker. And today, our son talks all the time. But talking often doesn't come naturally to all dads.

The first voice babies usually hear is their Mother's. I know lots of pregnant women who talk to their tummies - even when they don't realize they are doing it. Not a lot of dads feel comfortable talking to babies before they are born, but babies pick up on their voices anyway.

But, once babies are born, research shows that dads need to speak up more. A study published in Pediatrics found that babies heard three times as many words from moms than dads. So here are a few tips to help dads talk more:
  • Tell baby about your day. Just think - you have a captive audience. It doesn't matter how technical or mundane your job is. Just take baby through what happened to you that day.
  • Tell baby about your childhood. Share what you loved or remembered or what you want your child to also experience.
  • Narrate what you are doing. Pretend that you are teaching someone a new skill and walk them through all the steps. Because, in truth, you are teaching your baby lots of new skills.
Would it feel awkward at first? Maybe. But if you keep it up, it will feel more natural and it's really fun when your child starts repeating everything you say.

Any tips to share? Let me know in the comments.

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