University of Edinburgh

Early Years Focus in Deaf Education

Presented on Friday 9 November, 2012

Empowering parents - language development and play

Kim Davidson Kelly

The baby packs

These packs are in draft form. They should be used with families as partners in modifying the contents. Families should feel confident about commenting, adding, deleting and changing any of the material if they think it could benefit from their own experiences and help others who will read the packs.

The packs are not intended to overload families with yet more paperwork and you may only want to use sections from a sheet and not distributs the sheet itself. The pack could have new sheets added and one omission is a sheet on buggies and prams. Parents might like to produce this sheet themselves?

Sheet: Changing a nappy

Nappies are changed many times every day? Please make sure that your baby is lying so that the light is behind him. This will allow him to see your face really well. Dirty napies give you many opportunities to make faces that express how you feel about unpleasant smells, "Yuck, poo" etc.

Repeating the same word over and over is helpful and babies love repetition. Hearing aids should always be on.

Sheet: Noisy toys

Household items can be used to play with and are just as much fun as the expensive varieties and sometimes more. Encourage your baby to listen to the sounds that the toys make. Have fun hiding toys and notice his reactions when you make the sounds - does he jump or blink or turn or make noises himself?

Children love to BANG. A wooden spoon on a box makes a good noise. Toy animals are always popular. Make the animal noises with your own voice. Children particularly enjoy the lion that ROARS and the mouse that squeaks.

Party blowers; mouth organs; novelty castanets; tambours; empty plastic bottle to blow into; cardboard tubes from kitchen foil or simlar make excellent trumpets; rattles; toy car horns; and many more. Toys with electronic voices will not teach your child to talk but may be fun to share together. The most important thing about toys is the time you play with them together.

Sheet: Dressing and undressing

Dressing your baby gives you another opportunity to set up little routines that will encourage listening.

Clothes with zips or snap fasteners lend themselves to noises that describe the actions you use. A zip can buzz like a bee as you pull it along. The buzzing sound can change from a low to a high pitch as you pull it up and from high to low on the way down.

Snap fasteners can pop as you press them toghether one at a time. Talk about your baby's arms as you push them through the sleeves. Even at this early stage enjoy games where you pretend that a hand has got lost in the sleeve. The use a surprised voice when you let it pop out. Trousers and feet work just as well.

The way different materials feel on a baby's skin can help you think of different words to describe touch - oh what a lovely soft vest; you'll like this cosy jumper; I think it's going to tickle ... and so on. Listen to your voice as you say these words and notice how the sound changes to match what you are saying.

Clothing is colourful and you can name the colours as you select your baby's clothes - let's have your red socks today - items can be counted; telate clothes to the weather or a particular occasion; name the different parts of your baby's body as you dress him. You can talk about any of these when dressing your baby and he will listen to your voice.

Sheet: Time to eat

As a small baby, breastfeeding and bottle feeding are times when you should try to sit quietly with your baby. If possible make sure that any background noise is at a minimum - television and music should be switched off.

Your baby will enjoy being held close to you. He will feel your voice through your body and hear it through his hearing aids. Keep your voice at a normal conversational level - if you whispen because he is close or speak very quietly, his hearing aids will not work effectively and you lose this wonderful opportunity to let him hear you. He will also be able to hear the sound of himself sucking and burping.

Try singing to him or recite nursery rhymes, or just describe how well he is feeding, eg; you like this don't you - is it good? I think so.

Your own voice will change pitch as you speak and your baby will tune in to the highs and lows in your intonation patterns. Remember to position yourself so that the light is on your face. This will allow your baby to see you clearly and not have to struggle with light in his own eyes.

Shee: Bath time

This activity will change as your bacy gets older. Even at the youngest stage it is worthwhile spending a little time introducing your baby to the sounds associated with having a bath. Keep the hearing aids on until the moment you are ready to pop the baby into the water.

  1. Splash the water gently and say 'splash'. Feel the water temperature and comment on it - ooh it's too hot - brr too cold - mm just right.
  2. Pour some baby bubble bath into the water - here it comes - glug glug. Talk about the bubbles, blow them across the water; pat them; put them on your baby's tummy or his nose; put them on your nose and help him to touch them; blow them off your nose.
  3. Even when the hearing aids are out of your baby's ears it is good to talk about what you are doing as you wash him. This will become your routine and he will learn to anticipate what you are about to do next. He will be watching your face and will be responding to your expressions and becoming used to the relevant lip patterns. Try naming body parts using short phrases, eg; Let's wash your tummy rub a dub dub, let's wash your hands - one hand, two hands; time for toes - one, two, three, four, five and lots more.
  4. Bath toys are always popular - ducks, boats, plastic containers to pour water on your baby's tummy, bright colours and squashy textures add interest.
  5. Somehow it's OK to make a mess in the bathroom.

Have fun!