In my ten-plus years as a postpartum doula I’ve had more than one very intelligent mom or dad ask me — “So…. when should I start talking to the baby?” This usually occurs after Mom or Dad has heard me chattering a mile a minute to their three-day old baby.
My answer? Yesterday. Or maybe even the day before that.
Babies are wired to respond to the human voice. Your baby has, in fact, been listening to your voice since about 20 weeks gestation. Did you know that newborn babies recognize and respond to their mother’s (and father’s) voices at birth? (Brothers and sisters too.)
One former postpartum doula client I worked with a few years ago began by putting her fourth baby down to sleep a few rooms away from where his siblings played and did homework. Her thinking was he would sleep better in the quiet, which seemed logical. But on the contrary, her newborn woke up every ten minutes when he was separated from his tribe. Once mom moved his bassinet closer to the family hub-bub, he slept longer and more soundly, apparently soothed and comforted by the familiar sounds of his siblings.
So then, what should you and your newborn talk about?
(Yes. That’s another question I have heard more than once.)
My answer: Anything that comes to mind. Your baby doesn’t really care if you read the use-and-care manual for your phone, vacuum or washing machine. Or if you read your emails or a recipe out loud. He just wants to hear your voice and know you are near, and in the process, attune his ever-developing brain to the rudiments of the language he will work unconsciously to acquire over the next few years.
So speak up. Sing, dance, read aloud to, laugh with and enjoy your baby. And pretty soon, she’ll be responding in kind.
Hire a postpartum doula to help you adjust to life with your new baby.
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