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Communicating, smiling, babbling & copying

Mum doesn’t just talk to Orson, she listens, looks and then responds – in this chapter we look at attunement and how it supports communication, including clear examples of motherese – laying the foundation for language development. We also witness some of Orson's first smiles of delight as he becomes a social contributor to the family and has turn taking conversations.

Good for looking at

  • Turn taking conversations
  • Non verbal communication
  • Language development
  • Babbling
  • Smiling
  • Tuning in
  • Vision
  • Babies
  • Parents
00:07
Orson's beginning to get involved
00:08
with the family's routine.
00:11
They all sit around the table at mealtimes,
00:13
and Orson can listen to the family talking.
00:17
From birth, Orson has sought out the sound
00:20
of mom's voice.
00:21
You've woken up happy this morning,
00:21
haven't you?
00:22
You have.
00:23
This combination of hearing her voice
00:25
and looking towards her face
00:27
has encouraged each of his eyes to work together,
00:30
and this tracking behavior
00:32
enables his vision to become more accurate.
00:39
He turns away when she stops talking to him
00:41
and he immediately turns to her
00:43
when she calls his name.
00:44
Orson.
00:48
Here you are, here you are.
00:50
When mom talks to him,
00:51
they look at each other on the midline or face to face.
00:54
Yeah.
00:55
Looking at her face straight on
00:57
helps his brain locate where sounds are coming from
01:00
because the sound is coming
01:01
to both of his ears simultaneously.
01:06
He's now ready to communicate in more complex ways.
01:10
Was that a giggle?
01:10
He's recently discovered he can smile
01:12
and make new noises.
01:13
Are you having
01:14
a giggle?
01:17
It gets a great response.
01:19
Mom loves it and smiles and chats back.
01:25
This positive response to his actions
01:28
encourages him to do it again.
01:31
Are you just checking out what Zed was doing?
01:34
Were you?
01:35
Yeah.
01:36
Mom pauses to let Orson reply.
01:38
I don't think his arms can go back on.
01:40
And a turn-taking
01:41
conversation has begun.
01:43
Is that good?
01:51
Is that good?
01:52
Yeah.
01:57
This is the beginning of language development.
01:57
So, do you like your present
01:59
that was sent this morning?
02:02
You do?
02:04
Being spoken to and listened to
02:06
is vitally important,
02:10
but even more important is being responded to.
02:13
It's not just about talking to the baby,
02:17
but rather responding to the baby's cues.
02:20
Now Orson's eyes can focus further,
02:22
he can look more carefully at the objects
02:26
he's interested in.
02:30
Mom responds, recognizing how he has a mind with interests.
02:34
So she talks for him, putting words to his actions.
02:40
Are you looking at your mobile?
02:42
Mm, you like your boats, don't ya?
02:49
And he chats back to her.
02:55
One of the one things that adults do
02:59
when they talk to babies is they almost instinctively
03:02
seem to adjust their voices to this musical way
03:04
of talking to babies.
03:08
For example, it's like, "Hello, how are you?
03:11
"Aren't you gorgeous, look at you.
03:14
"Aren't you the most beautiful baby?"
03:18
Yeah, that's nice.
03:24
If you listen, it's like, "Hello, how are you?"
03:27
What you can hear is I start to exaggerate
03:28
the vowel sounds.
03:30
Yeah.
03:32
Yeah.
03:33
These things make it easier for Orson
03:35
to pick out individual sounds,
03:36
and the vowel sounds are the first sounds
03:39
that Orson will master.
03:43
Yeah!
03:46
Really?
03:50
A similar thing happens with the face.
03:53
What you probably noticed as well,
03:55
when we were talking about that wonderful
03:57
exaggerated way of speaking,
03:59
is that you also exaggerate their facial expressions
04:02
when they're doing it.
04:03
So, what you find is you will say, "Hello."
04:06
And your eyebrows will probably go up,
04:08
and your eyes widen, and any smiles that you do
04:12
are also really exaggerated,
04:14
and this, of course, helps babies begin to copy,
04:18
and they begin to start to get a sense
04:21
of the feeling with their own facial expressions
04:24
'cause if the baby smiles, for example,
04:27
the carer smiles as well in a more exaggerated way.
04:31
The baby will smile and they'll go, "Oh, look at that!"
04:33
So, you get the whole exaggerated voice,
04:37
exaggerated facial expression, which actually helps
04:40
link the facial expression and the feelings inside as well.
04:46
So, mom doesn't just talk to Orson,
04:49
she listens, looks and then responds,
04:53
helping them become attune to each other.
04:56
They're entirely synchronized in vocalization,
04:58
mimicry and emotion.
05:01
This is also the fundamentals for reciprocal love.
05:05
So, Orson learns that he is lovable
05:07
and that his mom appreciates his love for her too.
05:11
He's getting an idea of what it feels like to be with mom,
05:14
and what she's like.
05:16
When he smiles, she smiles back.
05:18
When he chats, she chats back.
05:21
If he's uncomfortable, she'll make him comfortable.
05:25
Mom and dad's warmth and their consistent positive
05:28
responses to him are incorporated into his brain,
05:31
so the sense of being him,
05:34
and that this means being secure and loved,
05:36
will be something he will retain for the rest of his life.
05:49
In these first few months, Orson's brain is growing
05:51
very quickly.
05:53
His reflexes have helped his start in the world,
05:56
and his brain has been busy soaking up information
05:58
through his interactions with his close family.
06:01
It is because of this type of learning by experience
06:04
that Orson can develop the skills necessary
06:07
for his survival as a social being.
06:10
The neurons have made millions of new connections,
06:13
and groups of neurons that are fired repeatedly
06:16
will begin to lay the foundations of strong pathways.
06:20
These pathways are laid down as Orson makes connections
06:24
about the way things happen
06:25
as they're repeated over and over again.
06:29
His experiences so far
06:31
have been mainly from interactions
06:32
with his mom and dad,
06:33
as they have changed, fed, soothed and played with him.
06:37
His needs have been met when he behaved in certain ways.
06:41
He has had frequent face-to-face interactions,
06:44
and he's now gradually experiencing
06:46
what emotions feel like.
06:48
He's been cared for lovingly, kept safe and secure.
06:53
He's learning to trust that his needs will be met.
06:56
He's slowly learning that he can affect what happens to him.
06:60
He's also developing physically,
07:02
and these new skills,
07:03
together with his increasing brain function,
07:06
means that he can begin to learn
07:08
from new sorts of experiences.
07:10
Pull his ears.

Transcript of video – Communicating, smiling, babbling & copying

He’s now ready to communicate in more complex ways. He’s recently discovered he can smile and make new noises. It gets a great response. Mum loves it and smiles and chats back. This positive response to his actions encourages him to do it again. Mum pauses to let Orson reply and a turn taking conversation has begun. This is the beginning of language development. Being spoken to and listened to is vitally important but even more important is being responded to. It’s not just about talking to the baby but rather responding to the baby’s cues.

Now Orson’s eyes can focus further he can look more carefully at the objects he’s interested in. Mum responds recognising how he has a mind with interests, so she talks for him.

‘One of the wonderful things that adults do when they talk to babies is they almost instinctively seem to adjust their voices to this musical way of talking to babies. For example, it’s like “hello – how are you? – aren’t you gorgeous? – look at you – aren’t you the most beautiful baby?’’ if you listen it’s like “ hello how are you . What you can hear is that you start to exaggerate the vowel sounds.’

These things make it easier for Orson to pick out individual sounds and the vowel sounds are the first sounds that Orson will master. A similar thing happens with the face.

‘What you probably noticed as well when we were talking about the wonderfully exaggerated way of speaking is that you also exaggerate the facial expressions when you’re doing it, so what you find is you’ll say “hello “ and your eyebrows will go up and your eyes widen and any smiles that you do will also be really exaggerated and this of course helps babies begin to copy and they begin to start to get a sense of the feeling with their own facial expressions because if the baby smiles for example, the carer smiles as well in a more exaggerated way. The baby will smile and they’ll go “oh look at that”, so you get the whole exaggerated voice, exaggerated facial expression, which really helps link the facial expressions and the feeling inside as well.’

So mum doesn’t just talk to Orson – she listens, looks and then responds, helping them become attuned to each other. They are entirely synchronised in vocalisation, mimicry and emotion. This is also the fundamentals for reciprocal love, So Orson learns that he is lovable and that his mum appreciates his love for her too. He’s getting an idea of what it feels like to be with mum and what she’s like. When he smiles she smiles back, when he chats she chats back. If he’s uncomfortable she’ll make him comfortable. Mum and dad’s warmth and their consistent positive responses to him are incorporated into his brain, so the sense of “being him” and that this means being secure and loved, will be something he will retain for the rest of his life.