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Communication with the Infant During Care Situations

Communication with the Infant During Care Situations

By Emmy Gay, from a lecture given by Judit Kelemen at the Pikler House Dialogue Course

The early years are crucial for a child’s development, and the way caregivers communicate during care routines plays a significant role. In the Piklerian approach, words and movements are harmonized, creating a seamless learning experience for the child. This method teaches infants how to navigate the world through consistent and respectful communication.

Harmonizing Words and Movements

In the Piklerian approach, caregivers use synchronized words and gestures during their care routines. Care routines include changing a baby, picking a child up or offering food. This consistency helps children quickly associate words with actions. By around three months, infants begin to demonstrate situational understanding. For example, if a caregiver says, “I am going to go out the door,” and the child looks at the door, it shows they understand the word door. . At the Pikler House, the word “hand” is often used, and children learn to look at their hand or the caregiver’s hand upon hearing it.

Understanding Through Association

Children first understand nouns before verbs. A clear indication of understanding is when a child looks at an object upon hearing its name. One of Emmi Pikler’s principles was that caregivers should talk to children during the care routines,, teaching them about communication and the world through language and touch.

Building Knowledge Through Uniform Care

The Piklerian method emphasizes the importance of uniform care within an institution. Consistent gestures and words help children build knowledge over time. For instance during the care routine, when caregivers repeatedly say, “Give me your hand,” while gesturing, infants learn to respond by offering their hand. This consistent practice aids in their growth and development.

Fostering Active Participation

Caregivers also say “thank you” to children, acknowledging their participation and fostering a sense of being active partners in their care. This approach enhances the child’s awareness and engagement.

Enhancing Language Comprehension

To help infants understand language, caregivers connect words with touch. For example, saying “give me your hand” while touching the child’s hand teaches them what a hand is and what the caregiver will do next. Repetition of this process helps the child understand and anticipate care routines.

What Children Learn from this type of  Communication

Through communication, children gain various insights:

  • About Themselves: They learn about their body, actions, and significance.
  • About Caregivers: They understand caregivers’ intentions and nonverbal cues.
  • About the World: They learn about their surroundings and what to expect in the future.


Effective communication during care situations is essential for the healthy development of infants. The Piklerian approach, with its focus on synchronized words and gestures, helps children learn about language, themselves, and the world. By treating children as active participants and using consistent, respectful communication, caregivers can significantly enhance a child’s developmental journey

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