As parents, we often grow tired of baby talk. We long to have a real conversation with someone, anyone. When my children were little, it was NPR that made feel a connection to the adult world. However, the truth is, we can have conversations with our children about real, complex things. We can engage our children in conversations about what is happening throughout the day.
I read a blog on the Urban Child Institute's Website titled "5 Tips for Baby Conversations" that reminded me of this. Our children are looking to us for how to have a conversation, and we can do that by engaging in one with them. There is a give and take even when we converse with infants. They may coo or make eye contact, and then look expectantly at us. Those responses are the beginnings of conversation.
Reading with your child is another opportunity to practice this skill. Pause with each page and ask them to tell you what they think is going to happen next, find things on the page, tell what they are liking or not liking about the book, or name and describe what is there. Then respond to what they say or to their gestures so they know you are listening. If your child is too young to answer on their own, you can do this yourself. Yep, having conversations with yourself is a side effect of being a parent, and it is not a sign that you are crazy, but that you are promoting your child's language skills!
The key things are to pause and wait for your child to respond, and then to respond back based on what they said or did. In our harried world, it is hard to slow down, but take a deep breath, pause, and give your child time to respond and really listen to that response. But when you give your child the gifts of time and listening, you will be amazed at what they say and how soon you are having real conversations all day long!