Learning to talk is a gradual process that takes many building blocks to accomplish. When your sweet baby begins to coo, you’ll be amazed at how quickly they begin to understand and try to use language. Dating back to the beginning of time, humans have sought out ways to communicate with one another. As your baby begins the natural process of speech development, there are many fun ways you can help foster healthy vocabulary development.
Research shows that the sooner you begin to read to your child the better. Some mamas even begin reading to their babies in the womb. You’ll want to make sure to read books at your child’s appropriate reading level so that they stay interested and engaged. Start by reading baby board books and picture books. Then graduate to higher levels of reading as your child grows. You can also participate in library programs that encourage children to read and develop language.
Narrate Your Day
Even when your child is an infant, you can begin to speak to them about the daily activities that you’re experiencing. Say things like, “We’re going to change your diaper now,” and “Good morning, it’s time to get our day started.” Speaking in complete sentences helps them build their vocabulary and narrating the day’s activities helps them begin to learn their daily schedules as they explore the world around them.
Put Your Records On
Music plays a vital role in language development. Catchy rhymes and lyrics help a child practice memorization, repetition and the proper pronunciation of new words. Classical music has been shown to activate the cognitive areas of the brain and increase serotonin, the mood booster. A great way to increase language development and social development is to participate in a music class that is catered for social, cognitive and speech development. They’re a lot of fun, a great way to bond and will help your child’s language skills grow exponentially.
Expand Upon Your Child’s Thoughts
As your little one begins to communicate, they’ll pronounce words in different ways, usually by leaving off part of the word, like “ma” for “mommy” or “ba” for “ball.” When they do this, go ahead and say, “Yes, I am your mommy and I love you” or “Yes, that’s a ball. Do you want to play with it?” Expanding the language helps children learn to fill in the gaps for what they’re missing. Do it long enough and watch how it will suddenly change, to “mommy” and “ball.” It’s incredible!
Use Technology As A Tool
After the age of 2, when your child is better able to process the world around them, educational television and apps can help to build upon the blocks of language that you already have set in place. Choose apps that help your child rhyme and begin to understand the ABCs and their importance in the development of language and words.
Storytelling is a wonderful way for a child to practice their language development in a fun and safe environment. It’s how your child learns to handle the world around him. Make sure to give him lots of developmental toys, games and costumes. Then, go the next step by dressing up with him and telling him stories. If you’re not the creative type, look to the old fairytales to help inspire your stories. Then, flip the idea and have your child tell you a story.
Be An Advocate
You are your child’s first teacher. It’s up to you to be on the lookout for proper language development and help encourage your child as they learn to grasp the concept of language. Don’t ever be harsh with your child if they are having difficulty expressing themselves through words. It will take some time for them to grasp the ability to speak clearly. The best thing you can do is model the correct pronunciation of words and how they relate to sentences and everyday life.
What to do if you suspect a speech delay
If your child has reached the age of 6 months and isn’t making eye contact or any cooing sounds, you’ll want to make sure to talk to your child’s pediatrician. If your child is between the ages of 15 months and 2 years and hasn’t yet began to create any words at all, reach out to your pediatrician for advice. If your child has a speech delay, whether due to an oral issue with the mouth or another issue, make sure to seek out help sooner rather than later. Catching a problem early can help stop certain issues in their tracks, helping your child to outgrow them sooner. If you suspect your child is having trouble communicating, you’ll likely see a speech therapist who can treat speech disorders in children as young as infants. If you think your child’s speech problem is the result of a hearing issue, you’ll be referred to an audiologist, who can help
It’s so much fun when your baby begins to use language in their own creative way. Remember to be the sounding board that they need as they take chances to learn about the world around them. Before you know it, it’ll be hard to get a word in edge-wise.