My Experience Talking to Baby In The WombKatlyn Joy | 2, September 2013
According to research, babies are floating about listening to us talk. And learning at the same time. Research has shown that babies start hearing around the 30th week of pregnancy and that babies in the womb recognize their own mother's voice.
Researchers also believe that infants in utero learn words they hear repeated frequently, building a base for learning language even before birth.
Practical application of this knowledge can be fuzzy though, for the pregnant mom. I heard this before my first child was born and felt a bit skeptical and not a little crazy talking to the baby--aloud.
More than once I tried and felt like I was on some kind of weird blind date. It was awkward and since the conversation was all one-sided, as blind date conversation often is, it would stall out.
Some people love engaging in this activity with baby, feeling like the bonds are beginning to form through these tiny spoken messages. If baby responds with movements or kicks, some even felt it was a type of give and take like a real conversation.
My experience with my next child was different. I didn't feel compelled to have a direct conversation. I had children around me all day now and knew the baby heard all the sounds, including nursery rhymes, silly songs and giggles. I didn't feel like I was neglecting my unborn child if the conversation wasn't pointed directly at him.
With my final pregnancy, I was in grad school, studying poetry. I knew she was hearing language at its best. She heard students reading their creations aloud. She attended readings by notable artists all while still in my uterus. While I wasn't sure it would make a big difference whether she heard my cable bill read aloud or Tyehimba Jess reading from his award-winning collection of poems, I was glad for it all the same.
Now that my last baby is in first grade, I will admit she loves words. Is that due to all her prenatal exposure to them, or simply in her genes? How could I know? And does it matter in the long run?
What you want when you whisper to your blossoming tummy is the beginning of a conversation that should continue throughout your life. A conversation that helps you to know each other. Can your baby know you on sight? I think so. She or he has been so close to your heart for months, she knows the sound of the beat better than you ever could. The baby has heard the rise and fall of your voice when you call to your husband, when you sing (whether badly or not), when you read crossword clues aloud to your mother. Your voice, the sounds of your day, will become familiar to your baby before birth.
Some parents read from a special book each night, while others tell the baby how much they are excited to meet them, love them and tell the baby all the things they are looking forward to sharing. Some schedule it as if they were tucking in the baby each night. Many dads participate to feel a part of the baby's world. Pregnancy so often seems a bubble containing only mother and child, and dad can feel left out.
While the baby cannot comprehend it all, and perhaps it is all for naught to have special loving messages to speak to the child, it can't hurt. Babies are capable of far more than we ever realized in short years ago. They hear the sounds, begin to organize those sounds into words they associate with their family. While maybe you won't make baby a genius by reading Yeats or Angelou to her before birth, it certainly won't hamper her development either. Baby is learning words every time you and those around you speak. You want one of those words the baby recognizes at birth to be love. That is one thing you can be sure of.
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