What should I expect in a Chatterbabies session?
Sessions last about 45 minutes, and follow the same rough structure every week, although have a different theme every week. Session themes include our senses (sight, touch, smell etc) for the younger babies, as they are just learning about the world through all of their senses, and later on introduce topics such as animals, food and body parts. Regular activities include songs, books, sensory play activities and games, all designed to help your baby to develop the next step in their communication skills. Information about what skills are being worked on, and ideas for what activities to do at home is given during the sessions and in handouts which accompany each session.
Are these sessions Speech and Language Therapy?
Although these sessions are designed and run by a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) and are based on research and approaches used by SLTs, they are NOT Speech and Language Therapy sessions, as they are not designed to support specific developmental communication difficulties. If you have any concerns about your child's communication, Laura may be able to discuss with you whether a referral to Speech and Language Therapy services is advised.
Should I use baby sign with my child?
This is completely up to you! Chatterbabies sessions include some basic signs, but this is not the main emphasis of the sessions, and your child will get just as much out of it if you do not choose to sign with them. Baby signing was developed as an extension to the gestures that babies (and adults) naturally use to communicate, where just the most important word or two in the sentence is signed. Research is mixed as to whether signing with your child will help them develop spoken language any faster (although it will definitely not slow their spoken language down); the main benefit is that babies can often use signs a few months sooner than they can use spoken words, which can ease their frustration at not being able to get their message across during those few months.
If babies don't start using their first word until around one year old, how come sessions start from 3 months?
Although children don't typically start developing their spoken language until around a year, they start working on all the prerequisite skills for this from the very start. In order to communicate, we use much more than just spoken words- we need to be able to:
-attend and listen to what other people are saying, in order to be able to learn from them
-interact with other people using non verbal skills such as gestures and different sounds
-understand what other people are saying to us
-learn to move our mouths, tongues, lips etc in order to produce all the sounds that make up words, in the right order
-learn that we can get our message across to other people
-learn what words are, and that all the sounds we hear around us have meaning.
Chatterbabies sessions therefore work on all of these skills, rather than just focussing on learning words- and aim to give parents information on all of these small steps, so that you can marvel at your child's development every step of the way.