PARENTING

Newborns Communicating

By DR KEN MYERS

Posted  March 16 2016 | 0 Shares

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Newborns Communicating

 

Although newborn babies often appear to be minimally interactive, the first weeks of life are a key time for development of early communication skills and bonding with caregivers.

 

Newborns are limited in how they can express themselves, and crying is the baby’s main mechanism to respond to stimuli. Temperature changes, discomfort and hunger may all trigger crying as the baby endeavours to communicate its needs to its caregivers. Crying also serves an evolutionary purpose, allowing the baby to remind the parents that he or she is healthy and vigorous, and thus deserving of good care.

 

Another form of non-verbal communication in the neonatal period is the bonding that occurs between the baby and his or her caregivers. Parents bond with their newborn babies by talking to them, holding them, and simply by being physically nearby. Although babies’ abilities to express themselves are obviously limited, their sensory systems are developed, allowing them to smell, see, hear, taste and feel pain. Babies are soothed by smells or tastes linked to their mother, including amniotic fluid, colostrum, and even foods their mother frequently ate while pregnant.

 

While newborn babies do not have fully developed vision, they are able to recognize faces and have some ability to imitate. A good example of the latter is that newborn babies will often stick out their tongue if they see someone in their field of view doing the same. They display what is called “gaze preference”, preferring to look at patterns rather than solid grey backgrounds. Although they will not be able to fix on an object and follow it until later in infancy, they do tend to orient their vision towards faces.

 

What all this means is that, while newborn babies may not say or do much, they are constantly absorbing information about the people and things in their environment. With this in mind, parents should endeavour to make their world as rich and stimulating as possible. Just by being physically present, parents can communicate to their baby that they are safe and loved, laying the groundwork for a solid parent-child relationship in the years to come.

Reviewed by DR KEN MYERS 16 March 2016 references
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This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

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Newborns Communicating

PARENTING

Newborns Communicating

 

Although newborn babies often appear to be minimally interactive, the first weeks of life are a key time for development of early communication skills and bonding with caregivers.

 

Newborns are limited in how they can express themselves, and crying is the baby’s main mechanism to respond to stimuli. Temperature changes, discomfort and hunger may all trigger crying as the baby endeavours to communicate its needs to its caregivers. Crying also serves an evolutionary purpose, allowing the baby to remind the parents that he or she is healthy and vigorous, and thus deserving of good care.

 

Another form of non-verbal communication in the neonatal period is the bonding that occurs between the baby and his or her caregivers. Parents bond with their newborn babies by talking to them, holding them, and simply by being physically nearby. Although babies’ abilities to express themselves are obviously limited, their sensory systems are developed, allowing them to smell, see, hear, taste and feel pain. Babies are soothed by smells or tastes linked to their mother, including amniotic fluid, colostrum, and even foods their mother frequently ate while pregnant.

 

While newborn babies do not have fully developed vision, they are able to recognize faces and have some ability to imitate. A good example of the latter is that newborn babies will often stick out their tongue if they see someone in their field of view doing the same. They display what is called “gaze preference”, preferring to look at patterns rather than solid grey backgrounds. Although they will not be able to fix on an object and follow it until later in infancy, they do tend to orient their vision towards faces.

 

What all this means is that, while newborn babies may not say or do much, they are constantly absorbing information about the people and things in their environment. With this in mind, parents should endeavour to make their world as rich and stimulating as possible. Just by being physically present, parents can communicate to their baby that they are safe and loved, laying the groundwork for a solid parent-child relationship in the years to come.

Reviewed by Lisa Kelly 16 March 2016
references
  • current version

  • PEER REVIEWER

  • Doc id

  • next review

This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

make a comment

0 comments

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MEET THE EXPERTS

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