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With the birth of our second one only weeks away, the thought of making sure she gets lots of exposure to language is a little daunting. How are we going to manage this with a demanding and very ‘talkable’ two year old on our hands?
I think that firstly, I need to remind myself that survival in the first few weeks is going to be the key. I also need to acknowledge that she won’t get the same one-on-one experience as our first-born, but that doesn’t mean she won’t get many rich language learning opportunities.
And although first born children usually reach the 50 word vocabulary mark earlier than their siblings, second born children usually have better conversation and social skills. This is just a reminder that all children develop at different rates and that it’s important to try not to make comparisons.
With all this in mind, here are my top 10 suggestions for giving your new baby some extra chat time.
1. Play dates
Make the most of support from family and friends, particularly if this means play dates for your older one. This will give you some very precious one-on-one time with your new little one.
2. Accept help from others
Make the most of other offers of help too – meals, washing, cleaning – all of this will give you more time for baby play.
3. Baby carriers
Baby carriers and slings are your friend as these help you easily carry your new baby with you while your hands are free. While you carry them, talk to your baby all the time about what is happening . Talk about what you can see, hear and feel.
4. Story time
Lie on the floor and read stories with your baby. This can be a fun time for all of you to read together – big brothers and sisters included!
5. Pram choice
Try and choose a pram that allows you to face your new baby towards you when you are out and about. Often your big one will enjoy facing out and exploring the world, while this can be a great time for you to talk to your new baby.
6. Feeding time
Make the most of feeding times. These are a great time for lots of eye contact and soft conversations.
7. Everyday routines
Use all of your everyday routines as rich language learning opportunities – bath time, nappy change, feeding, burping!
8. Ignore the mess
Ignore your messy house and tell yourself “talking is teaching”. You are doing the most important job of your lifetime, helping your baby learn, communicate and relate to others. Your messy house can wait – your baby’s developing brain needs you now!
9. Sing together
Sign songs with both your little ones. These are great for language learning as they use engaging melodies, repeat key words and usually have actions that show your baby what words mean.
10. Learn together
Explain to your big one that you all have to teach the new baby words. Learning key word signs together as a family can be fun as your big one can become a great talking buddy too!
Great to meet you!
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m passionate about early language development and the real difference that every parent can make when it comes to teaching their child to communicate.
I’ve been a paediatric speech pathologist for over 14 years, working in both Melbourne and Perth. I currently work part-time for a not-for-profit paediatric therapy organisation in Perth, which I love.
My other, and most important job, is being Mum to my beautiful girls, Ella (4) and Chloe (2). When we’re not busy reading books, splashing in puddles or checking the letterbox, I also enjoy taking Oskar (our first and furry baby) for walks, going to the beach and getting out in the veggie patch.
I hope that you find the information, videos and tip sheets on this website helpful. If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear from you so send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.