Judging by the dialogue between baby Stewie and Brian (the dog) in Family Guy, probably quite a lot. It usually takes us dumb parents at least a year to interpret our baby’s attempts to use our language and we think it is so sweet when those first recognisable words appear.
But perhaps we are underestimating our babies’ ability to communicate and they want to say much more than we can understand? Perhaps they quickly cotton-on to our inadequacies and therefore limit us to simple words, like Dada, Dog and (in the case of our youngest) ‘Bugga’ ? (Yes, we are convinced that was what she said. Clearly she was exasperated by our inability to understand her previous sentence, ‘Would one of you be so kind as to tune into the News Channel, I’m fed up with listening to these inane Teletubbies’.
So much in our adult world depends on successful communication and we are not very good at it. Misunderstandings occur even when we speak face to face. We misread body language, choose the wrong words and don't articulate what we really want to say. Personally, I think mis-communication is made worse through email, twitter and texting. Are we losing the art of proper conversation?
I recently saw a family mum, dad and three kids aged from 10 to 15 years old) sitting around a table in a restaurant, all busy texting on their mobile phones. They didn't make eye contact or say a word to each other for the entire meal!
We are born with the necessity and strong desire to communicate. So much passes between mother and baby via eye contact whilst feeding and suckling serves to develop the oral muscles need for speech (isn’t nature wonderful!).
(POI That is why vented feeding bottles, which require very little effort from the baby, are not good. Babies are often swamped or have to guzzle to keep up with the flow, rather than working hard, as they do at the breast.)
Giving pre-speech tots the skills to make themselves understood would help relieve their frustration enormously. Who knows, perhaps having the ability to communicate successfully from such a young age would improve all our communication skills?
Last year, I wrote a blog about two methods that had been developed to help us understand baby-talk, The Blossom Method™ and the Dunston Technique. Click to view post.
Now, baby sign language is becoming popular. See Newborncare.com.
I recently had coffee with a friend and her eight month old daughter, Elly. They have been learning sign language. Elly was thirsty and clearly made the sign for ‘Water’. It was wonderful to see their mutual delight at this successful interaction. However, whilst she clearly signed ‘water’ her eyes were saying ‘That pain au raisin you are tucking into looks rather scrumptious. Please could I have a nibble?’.
Maybe they will learn that next week!