5 Tips For Encouraging Your Baby's Language Development
While your infant is unlikely to speak intelligibly before their first birthday, it's never too soon to build the foundations for verbal development. And, the beauty is, it's as easy as talking to your baby. We turned to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) for some targeted ideas on how to encourage language development in infants.
If you're looking for some general milestones in your baby's speech and language progress, the Mayo Clinic offered the following: By the end of 3 months, they're likely to make cooing sounds, quiet or smile when spoken to, recognize a parent/parent's voice, and cry differently for different needs. By the end of 6 months, a baby is likely to make a variety of different sounds, whether they're playing with a parent or left alone, and become more observant of music and toys that make sounds. And, by the age of 1, many babies imitate speech sounds, say a few basic words, and recognize simple words and directions.
Read on for five ideas to encourage speech development from day one.
Read to Your Baby
You've heard it over and over again, and for good reason. Read to your baby as often as you can. This is the foundation for developing a love of books, and encourages the use and understanding of early language.
Have a Conversation With Your Baby
Treat your baby's little noises as conversation. Look at them when they make sounds and respond with real words. Oftentimes, they'll keep the conversation going with their own coos and gurgles, which will eventually become intelligible, actual words.
Talk About Animal Sounds
Introducing (and repeating) animal sounds will help to reinforce the sound with the animal that makes that sound. "What does the doggy say? He says, 'woof, woof,' right? Can you say, 'woof, woof,' like a doggy?" Save pictures of different animals to your phone for an easy on-the-go activity with your baby (no farm visit required!).
Talk Them Through Their Routines
Talking your baby through their daily routines (getting dressed, changing diapers, bath time) offers numerous benefits. It can be soothing for them to know what to expect, and will help to expand their vocabulary. While it may feel silly at first, you'll both get into the routine — think: "OK, we're going to go into the tub now. How does the water feel? Is it warm? Do you see the bubbles? Now I'm going to wash your hair with this shampoo." And so on.
Count the Things You See and Do
Whether it's steps taken, cars that pass by, or Cheerios on a snack tray, find opportunities throughout the day to count out loud to your baby.