Today’s generation of young parents grew up with cell phones, the Internet and other gadgets. While technology has evolved, however, babies still need just as much face-to-face interaction as they did in the past in order to learn to speak.
How can we make sure children are progressing as well as possible? The answer comes rather instinctually. Communication begins early… much earlier than speech. Babies therefore need a lot of eye contact, facial expressions and responses to their attempts to communicate in order to progress in their language acquisition, even when they haven’t yet started speaking.
Communication begins in the cradle. At first, even though they don’t understand your words, babies are soothed by your voice. Tell your baby what you’re doing (I’m putting blue socks on your feet…) and the activities you have planned (We’ll go visit Rose, and then we’ll…). Babies eventually understand much more than they can speak. We can then ask them questions (Do you want apple juice or grape juice?) and wait for them to answer in order to encourage them to respond.
Reward attempts to communicate by giving your baby all your attention. Set aside what you were doing and make direct eye contact with your child.
Avoid using baby talk with children, as this will only serve to confuse them. Right from the beginning, teach them the correct term for objects and body parts. You can also begin integrating books at a very early age. Bedtime reading is a wonderful opportunity to enrich your child’s vocabulary and to spend quality time together. Even when children are too young for a whole story, you can describe images from the book. Songs and nursery rhymes are also a fun way to develop language.