Babies are fascinated by photos. Lucky for them we all have smartphones so we’re camera-ready at every moment. We snap so many baby photos we hardly think about what we’re doing. That one didn’t come out so great? Click delete and take another.
Smart parents take advantage of the mesmerizing effects of photos to keep babies happy and occupied and to teach concepts and skills to babies. Sitting in the waiting room at the pediatrician’s office with a bored and fussy baby? Show the baby the photos in the gallery on your phone. It’s an activity that never grows stale.
Besides their seductive pull for small-fry attention, photos can be a great starting point for a conversation with your baby. You can point to a photo, say “Baby,” and then say, “What is this?” to see if you can elicit a response: “Bah!”
“That’s right!” you might say, and repeat, “Baaaaaaay-by.”
Photos Teach Early Literacy Skills
That’s a lesson in early literacy skills. Your baby is watching your lips and trying to repeat the sounds you make. At the same time, your baby attempts to connect the shape of your lips, the sound you make, and the sound she tries to repeat, with the image depicted in the photo. Yup. You guessed right: it’s just like reading. That’s why experts call these various facets connected to this learning process “pre-literacy skills.”
You can extend these pre-literacy skills lessons by using photos to talk about activities or even emotions. “What is the baby playing with?”
“That’s right! Ball. Can you say ‘ball?’
“Is this baby happy or sad?”
Depending on the age of your baby, you may have to supply the answer. You might say:
“Baby crying. C-c-CRY-ing,” enunciating the hard “c” sound of the word “crying.”
If your baby tries to make the hard “c” sound, she’s learning! Be patient. It may take more repetition and more sessions, but understanding and ability will come with time and practice.
Emotion Book From Photos
When my eldest was a baby, I used photographs to make an emotion book. On each page, there was a photo of my little girl experiencing a different emotion. We’d name the emotions.
If my daughter was angry, I’d tell her to go get her emotion book and find the photo that showed how she was feeling. She’d show me and I’d say, “You’re angry.”
She’d repeat the word and feel comforted that I understood what she was feeling at that moment.
This is important because children don’t always have a way to describe what they are feeling and this can cause them a great deal of frustration. They count on us as their parents, to correctly interpret the sounds they make and how they are feeling about things. We may not understand them all the time, but parents become fairly adept at interpreting the utterances of their own children.
Resourceful parenting is all about using common everyday experiences to teach important lessons. Kids are fascinated with smartphones and photos. Exploit that fascination to help build your baby’s knowledge base about the things in her world, to increase her language skills, and to better understand the human experience.