What is not so well known is what they “say” with their voices, although Priscilla Dunstan who appeared on Oprah in December 2009, claims that babies have 5 words they use to communicate what they want. I have watched her promotional video and the video of her appearance on Oprah, looked at her product, considered what she is saying and tend to agree with her about the “pre-sounds” that babies make before going bonkers screaming to get someone to figure out what they want. You know that screaming sound. For a mother, it is THE WORST sound in the world and can make her bonkers really fast.
So, I got to thinking about babies voices and what I know about how to listen to them in a different way to discover what they want. There are a lot of theories out there and some of them work and some of them don’t, but if you can find the ones that work for you, then you stand a better chance at being able to successfully calm your baby.
So, this next part is about my particular theory, which is based on years of professional work with numerous moms and their babies, in various settings, from childcare centers, children book stores, early childhood development conferences and private homes, to over the phone and online. And I have also tested out this theory in random encounters with moms and their babies in clothing and food stores.
All of these encounters have caused me to believe that my theory is right, especially the random encounters, because the moms in the stores were not in an educational setting where they had chosen to come and learn. They were just doing a normal daily activity and were not in the mindset for learning something new. They were game when I worked with them and truly amazed by what happened. You’ll have to wait for a future post about what happened in those settings. One at Costco particularly stands out in my mind, but, back to my theory.
So what is this theory of mine?
It’s actually pretty simple, when you understand the basic principle. Here it is:
Babies cry or sound out certain specific pitches with their voices and when you know how to listen carefully to those pitches and match them with your own voice, your baby will notice and pay attention almost immediately.
Why is this?
Think about yourself for a moment. When you say something to someone, you want to know that they hear you, right? Like when you ask your husband to do something for you and he doesn’t say a word and doesn’t move or respond in any way, you don’t know if he has actually heard you or not, right? And so you try again, a little louder, a little more forcefully the second time, yes? And if he still doesn’t respond or doesn’t respond enough, you may start to get frustrated or angry, isn’t that true?
On the other hand, if you ask him the first time and he says, “Sure, I’d be happy to do that. Can you wait a few minutes until I finish……? (whatever it is he needs to finish), you KNOW he gets it because he has answered back with his voice.
Let me say that again. You know he gets it because he answered you back with his VOICE!
In other words, you are expecting a response from him that let’s you know that he not only heard what you said, he understood and is going to act on it by verbally communicating with you.
Now I know that some guys will just grunt. Ok, I get that, but this isn’t about the guys, it’s about you and your baby’s voice.
And your voice.
Your baby is asking for something with her voice. At first she is not angry or upset. She is just making what you may think are noises. But she is actually trying to get you to respond in the way she needs you to respond, just like you try to get your husband to respond in the way you need him to respond.
She needs you to respond first with your voice, and then with an action.
It’s pretty easy to learn how to hear the pitch that is the dominant or strongest pitch that your baby is making. When you can do that, then you can learn match it back to her because it is a sound that your brain is geared to hear at the same pitch that she is making.
You see, language and singing are partners. In fact, there is what I call a singing/language connection.
Our voices, from the time we are born, make certain musical sounds. Until recently, we did not think about them or talk about them as though they were musical sounds. To us, they were just baby babble, cute, mostly undecipherable, and sometimes downright frustrating.
It was just easier to pay attention to other sounds around us that are usually more dominant or easy to hear and understand.
Think about yourself in a grocery store and you have your little baby along with you. It’s hard enough to get everything in and out of the car without upsetting your baby or yourself, but now you have to go up and down the aisles, deciding what you need, what you can afford, what you want. There is probably some sort of music playing over the store’s sound system and lots of noises from the people around you.
Your baby is taking it all in…..then wants to tell you something….but you are not listening to your baby….you want to get what you need and get out of there.
So you put off responding to her for as long as you can, which is usually until she starts getting louder and more demanding.
If, on the other hand, you have learned how to listen and identify the pitches of her voice and respond back with the same or similar pitches, adding a bit of eye contact and touch, she will know that you are paying attention to what she is saying and will probably not get as fussy as she might.
It’s the old “call and response” communication principle that has been around since the beginning of time.
You probably learned songs when you were a child that used this very idea.
Someone calls out with a simple melody and you call back with the same melody.
That’s what your baby is doing. She is calling out with certain musical pitches and expecting you to call back to her.
I’ve seen it work so many times that I get dizzy thinking about how easy it is and how few people know about it.
So, that is what I do at SingBabySing®. I show you how to hear those baby voice pitches and call back with them using your own voice, learning how to improve the quality of your voice so that your baby will have a better chance at learning excellence in language skills. But that subject is for another blog post.
For this post, I just want to say that this one simple thing can make all the difference in the world when it comes time for calming your baby (or your other children or your husband).
Don’t wait so long to use your voice. Use it at the beginning of her calling out. You make it easier for her to stay calm that way, which in turn makes it easier for you to figure out what she wants.