Infants NEED one on one interaction with parents and other caregivers not only to develop a sense of trust, but their communication skills as well. The crucial time period for language development is between birth and three years of age. Therefore it is essential that infants and toddlers are engaged daily in activities that promote both listening and speaking.
What parents can do to help their baby with language development:
- Begin talking and singing to your baby before she is born! Babies’ ears develop in approximately the third week of gestation and they are able to respond to sound stimulation by the sixteenth week. In the womb, a mother’s voice can be heard very clearly, so go ahead- read, talk and sing to her!
- Hold your infant about 10 inches from your face, make eye contact, and spend time singing, talking and making facial expressions to stimulate her.
- Carry on a ‘conversation’ with your baby as you go about your daily routines. Describe your activities, (e.g. “Mommy is going to change your diaper now. I am going to turn on your mobile! Would you like that?” etc.) Even though she is not able to answer, go ahead and ask her questions. This is the beginning of her understanding of a crucial part of conversation-taking turns.
- Sing lullabies while you cuddle with your infant. This is very soothing for the baby and can also have a calming affect on the caregiver as well.
- Children learn through repetition. Nursery rhymes that have reoccurring phrases are a great way to encourage language development.
- Singing stands apart from everyday speech and is very
- engaging to a child. Sing children’s songs, sing along with the radio, or try singing phrases instead of ‘talking’ them. (i.e. “Here we go to take a bath, take a bath, take a bath…” etc.)
- Try repeating the sounds she says and watch what she does. This can be a very entertaining activity for you both, and is key to communication.