Think your baby is too young to be read to? Not at all! Reading books together can help even the youngest children with hearing loss to develop their language skills. In this special guest post from Frances Clark at Auditory Verbal UK, we find out how to make the most of book time with your baby.
Auditory Verbal UK is also currently the focus of the BBC Lifeline appeal. If you live in the UK and want more information about the charity, check out this special appeal program with Sara Cox.
Reading together is one of the best parts of parenting! Whether your baby has just been diagnosed with hearing loss, or they already have a hearing device like a cochlear implant, books are fantastic for developing skills in play, listening and language. Books are also a great way to enjoy some close one-to-one time with your baby.
At about 6 months, your baby will develop joint attention. This means that you and your baby are thinking about the same thing at the same time. For example, if you point to a picture, your baby will also focus their attention on the picture. Around the same time, your baby will start to understand cause and effect—that if you do one thing, another thing will happen. These skills make it the ideal age to start reading books together.
For many babies with hearing loss, they will be in the early stages of learning to listen with their new audio processors. But even if your child has yet to receive their cochlear implants, stimulating the auditory part of the brain now will help their language skills once they have their implants.
How can you make book time more fun? Here are some ideas.
To develop play:
- Use board books with baby faces. Cover the babies with blankets and play Peekaboo!
- Use everyday objects to interact with the faces in the books, such as feeding the baby in the book with a spoon, or wiping the baby in a book with a baby wipe.
To develop listening:
- Use books with rhythm, rhyme and repetition. Even if your child is waiting for a cochlear implant, they should still be able to perceive some low frequency sound information. Rhythm, rhyme and repetition stimulate the part of the brain responsible for low frequencies, giving your baby essential auditory input.
- Talk ahead—say a sound and then show your baby the pictures. For example, say “shhhhhhh!” then show a picture of the baby sleeping; “mmm mmm” then a picture of the baby eating. They could then interact with the book by feeding the baby with a spoon.
To develop language:
- Use everyday language to interact with the babies in the book, such as “bye bye” as you close the book and wave to the baby; “kiss” and then give the baby in the book a kiss.
Many board books are available for young babies. AVUK also has a book that enables you to do these activities and features babies and very young children wearing their hearing technology—visit the AVUK Shop to find out more.
Happy Book Sharing!
Want to get your child into reading? Here are our top tips for getting your child interested in books.
Find out more about how cochlear implants work and how they could help you or your child.
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