Baby Talk: Teaching your baby language
Infancy is such a wonderful time but being a parent can be a little overwhelming. If you are wondering what you can do to give your child the best start at developing their language, then read on.
In short: Teach your baby to talk by talking to them.
As well as being the springboard to future skill development it is a time for you and your child to develop a trusting relationship. It is important that you use this time to have fun, bond with your child and ‘kick start’ your child’s language skills. They will be learning from you through imitation from a very early age. Children don’t learn to talk by themselves; they develop these skills by interacting and spending time with the people.
Babies learn to communicate well before they learn to talk. They start communicating through the use of crying, making sounds, moving their bodies or reaching for items. As your child grows they will learn other ways of getting their message across, using gestures and speech.
It is important that you become aware about not only how your child is communicating but also why (e.g. I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m wet). By having a good understanding of your child’s ways of communicating and reasons for communicating you will help to ensure a sense of trust and intimacy between you and your child.
The First Six Months
From the moment of birth your baby will enjoy being talked to.
- Your baby will learn to listen to your voice and will love being talked to at the same time as being fed and cuddled.
- Your baby will enjoy watching your face and will look at your eyes and your mouth while you talk.
- Your baby will start to communicate with you – by crying, looking, smiling and making noises. They need you to respond to these signals.
- Copy the noises your baby makes and show that you enjoy listening to them.
- Talk to your baby about what’s happening, using very simple language. (“Wheee! Into the bath!” “Splash, splash!”).
- Try to cut out other distracting noises – especially TV and radio.
- Use feeding, changing and bathing as an opportunity to communicate with your baby.
- This early interaction between parent/carer and baby is very important. It will help your baby to enjoy communicating.
From Six Months to One Year
Your baby will be very sociable now and will love being played with and talked to.
- Enjoy nursery rhymes and action songs together. Play simple tickling, bouncing, round and round the garden, this little piggy, peek-a-boo and clapping games. And play them over and over again!
- Hold your baby on your lap so that you are face to face. Or get down to the same level and play on the floor together. Your baby needs to be close to you and to see your face.
- Watch what your baby is looking at and then say the word yourself (“Oh, that’s your ball. Let’s roll your ”).
- Make the important words stand out clearly – and don’t be afraid of repeating them – over and over again!
- Experiment with making different sounds and combining different sounds together (e.g. bababa, or mamamama, or dadada).
- Listen to your baby and show that you enjoy all the sounds they make. Copy them back. Then wait and see if they ‘say’ anything else. You will soon be having a ‘conversation’ – even if the words aren’t there just yet.
- Use lots of animation in your voice – your baby will enjoy hearing different sound patterns in your voice.
Enjoy the journey of your baby learning to communicate as the beginning of more language to come.