What Would My Advice To Kate And William Be? July 14 2013
My congratulations to Kate and William on the safe arrival of their new little boy! Well done Mum!
Well, my first piece of advice would be to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’... although as a mum of two myself I know that’s a very tall order when you’re expecting your first child!
Never mind the fact that this baby boy just happens to be the potential future king of the country...oh and the whole nation (if not the world) is waiting in anticipation for the arrival of this little bubba.
And did we mention the fact that financial experts are predicting a £240 million boost to our economy due to his birth! No pressure then?
Of course, Kate and William need to remain focused on the little life they’re bringing into the world and to try and enjoy those precious early days in as much privacy as they will hopefully be allowed.
I imagine they’ve had lots of top-notch experts advising on the pregnancy and how to care for baby once he arrives....I just hope that they’ve been given advice on how to care for baby’s brain – not just the more obvious smelly or noisy bits (although of course practical advice on bathing, feeding and changing are vital for new parents too).
In my work as a speech and language therapist I have recently started having the privilege of giving speech and language advice to expectant parents within their NHS antenatal classes. What the heck am I doing talking to parents and bumps about speech and language you may ask? Well – there’s lots to say actually!
Babies are born ready and willing to connect and communicate with the people around them. Within the first fifteen minutes of birth a baby will actively seek out their parents’ voice and will show a preference for looking at human faces rather than other objects. This baby will instinctively know that Kate and William are its parents – after all he or she has been hearing their muffled voices since 4 months of gestation so of course he or she will want to put a face to the voices!
After this first magical meeting Kate and William will hold the key to unlocking this baby’s potential. 75% of all brain development occurs within the first 2 years of life, and it’s the way adults interact with a baby that has the greatest influence on all those billions of neural connections upon which all this child’s development will build.
Our Best Beginnings video shows a whole range of tips on how to support a baby’s communication development right from the word go. Perhaps I would pick out 2 main ideas for the Royal parents:
- Tune into your baby and follow their lead – babies are more clever than we realise at letting us know what they want. What may appear to be a random set of limb and head movements or vocalisations are actually the baby’s way of intentionally communicating their needs and wants with us. If baby turns their head, shuts their eyes or starts waving their arms and legs while you’re chatting with them then stop, watch and wait. Think about what they could be trying to tell you....you’re too close get out of my space?...I’m tired can we have this chat later?...I’m hungry??? Baby’s cues to us can be very subtle so Kate and William need to really pay attention!
- Be face to face wherever and whenever you can. Babies take great delight in looking at human faces and they actively seek this out. The reason for this is that this is how humans can best exchange information – when you’re face to face you’re getting all the information possible. Baby can hear you better, see all your facial expressions, watch how your lips move to make each sound and will feel valued and loved. Plus you can watch for those vital cues baby gives you so you know when to stop or carry on with your song or chat. Oh and by the way Kate – Suzanne Zeedyk has written you a very important letter about your (excellent) choice of pusher-facing buggy – you need to read it!
And so I’ll stop here as I’m sure I won’t be the only one wanting to give my two penny’s worth to the new parents.
Unlike many, this baby has been born into exceptionally privileged circumstances, but like all children born into this world its vital that its parents know that no amount of money can buy what their baby will really need – time and loving words with people who are crazy about them.
Fiona Barry 2013