Infants and Learning through Listening
Feb 12, 2022 Many parents are eager for their child to say their first words, but how much do we pay attention to an infant’s listening skills?
Listening is an important skill that requires a child to hear a message, understand it, and then act accordingly. Young children who have listening difficulties may show the following behaviors:
- Difficulty with hearing,
- Unclear or delayed speech,
- Difficulty following rules or expected routines,
- Behavior challenges,
- Difficulty engaging with other people and their environment.
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Active listening skills start developing by you being a good listener, too. This also shows why it’s important to support, strengthen, and keep track of these listening skills at an early age.
Infant Listening Milestones
By the age of 1 year, infants have already begun developing important listening skills to process their environment such as:
- Infants become alert to sudden noises and sounds by age 4 months. They may get quiet and move their eyes in the direction of the noise.
- By 6 months of age, infants attend to familiar voices by quieting and turning their heads in that direction. Infants are delighted by music, noisy toys, and familiar voices. Also, they “pick up” on tone by responding positively or negatively with babbling and facial expressions.
- They imitate sounds, actions, and approximate words around this age, too. Imitating the speech sounds and voice inflections of their parents and siblings help support their learning through language.
- At around 8 months, infants follow simple requests/directions such as “want up” or “come here.” And, they also begin to point at named objects, people, and pets, too. Even more, they will continue to get better and will eventually help them follow multi-step instructions to do a task such as a school assignment or learning to do the laundry.
- As far as imitation goes, babies engage in back and forth vocal and play exchanges by age 1. Have fun with an infant by blowing raspberries, taking turns babbling strings of sounds, and playing games like tickling, “Patty Cake,” and “Peek-a-Boo.” Infants listen attentively by looking and turning their head/body in their parent’s direction. They demonstrate all the above skills with a parent or sibling. Ultimately, these activities will help develop early conversational and play skills that later support learning and language development.
Listening skills are essential for a baby’s early speech development. Parents who support their infant’s attention, engagement, and interaction build connections to future opportunities in the world.