Talkin’ Baby Talk
You've probably had countless conversations with your child. These may include the moment you found out you were expecting (those heart to heart talks with “the bump”), to those first intimate moments when you held your baby, to the day-to-day exchanges. Your baby will thrive in a language rich environment. These conversations are the start of supporting their growth and development.
Babies are developing their language skills from the moment they are born.
There are two different types of language development:
- Receptive language development: how well a baby comprehends what you are saying.
- Expressive language development: how a baby communicates with you and others.
How can you support your baby's language development?
It's easy and doesn't take much time. It certainly doesn't take many additional resources.
- Be responsive to your child. From those earliest cries, coos, and smiles, interact with your child and let them know you are listening. When they coo, coo back. When they smile, smile too. Even making simple eye contact is important and will reinforce to them that you are listening and responding.
- Carry on a conversation. This doesn't mean you have to do all the talking. Babies may speak a language of their own, including coos and then babbles. When your baby “talks” with you, talk back. Try using similar sounds that they are making. Introduce new sounds and words. It's all fun and games and an essential part of supporting your baby's language acquisition.
- Tell your baby about it. Take the time to tell your baby what is happening in their life. It is important to share everything with them, from a routine diaper change to a visit to a friend. Even though your baby may not respond with words, these descriptions will support their receptive language development.
- Read books. From the earliest days, books provide a wonderful and developmentally appropriate way to immerse your child in language. Don't forget what a wonderful resource your local library is!
- Sing songs and listen to music. Music is embedded with natural rhythms that compliment the rhythms in our speech patterns. Music is a very enjoyable way to support language, both expressive and receptive.