Mama... Dada... Doggy... One of the most exciting language development milestones is, of course, when your baby starts talking for the first time. Those first words set off an avalanche of attempts to communicate that may make you eager for your baby to start fully talking.
Language development takes time and patience, and every baby works at their own pace. But if you're excited, there are things you can do to speed things along and make them go more smoothly! Talking to your baby is rewarding and fun. You'll never forget the first quasi conversation you're able to have with them.
Here are some of the best tips to help your baby communicate quickly and effectively.
1. Never Stop Talking
Exposure is the number one way that babies learn to speak. And if they're spending their whole day with you, that's the best place for them to experience that exposure.
It may feel a little unnatural at first, but never let there be prolonged silence. Narrate to them the whole day. Tell them what you're doing and what they're going to do. Tell them you're proud of them. Talk to them about what's been going on in your personal life. Make jokes!
They'll learn how to listen and understand before they even start speaking, so don't underestimate the power just talking to them will have.
2. Read Lots of Books
Studies have shown that reading to babies early on and regularly helps with language development milestones and can put them ahead in literacy by the time they're four years old. Reading is a great way to fill the day and to mark transitional times like right before bed. It's a calm activity that helps to teach sentence structure, first words, and even logic. You can even have children as young as one fill in words to books they know particularly well.
Personalized baby books bring the action even closer to home so that your baby can have personal stakes in the story. This will not only encourage them to start recognizing their own name, but it will also help them pay attention to books too.
3. Listen to Music
Music helps contextualize language in a new and fun way. Repetitive children's songs in particular help reinforce vocabulary and present new information about the world around them.
But don't just limit your baby's music taste to children's music! By exposing your child to a large range of genres, you're getting them used to more complex words and ideas early on. This can help with oral language development.
4. Indulge In Your Child's Interests
What do you find yourself talking about the most? Most likely your answer is the things that you're most interested in.
Babies are no different than the rest of us. They're most likely to want to communicate about their interests. Take notice of what your child likes and focuses on. Then talk to them about it!
Find them books about the subject. Point the thing out when you see it. Tell them everything that you know about the subject. Find them toys related to their interests so that they have even more to talk about. Some kids even become little experts in their fields and can tell you a lot more about them than you'd expect.
5. Don't Criticize
Since you're your child's main teacher, you may be tempted to correct their mistakes. While it's helpful to teach your child to speak correctly, being overly critical can lead them to have personal doubts that will hinder them reach the next stages of language development. Think of how much easier it is to try to speak a new language in a supportive environment than one where you're afraid of making a mistake.
Instead of telling them that they're saying something wrong, repeat the word back to them slowly in the context of your own sentence. Even if they continue to get the word a little wrong, using the word correctly on your own will eventually help the child set the word correctly (unless they have a speech impediment.) After all, they're making these sounds for the very first time and so there's plenty of time for them to understand and learn the nuances in pronunciation.
6. Go Places!
Want to expose your baby to even more language than just you can provide? Take them to where lots of talking is going on!
Take your baby to parks, restaurants, zoos, museums, and family gatherings. Any place where people are talking is a great place for your baby to learn more about language. They might not pick up words from just anyone (or maybe they will!), but they'll see lots of people talking and understand that it's something everyone does. Babies love to imitate so give them lots of people to imitate from.
9. Make It a Conversation
A lot of the suggestions of this list have been about how to expose your baby to language and how to come up with things to say to them, but remember that conversation is a two-way street. Your baby needs time to practice talking too! So make it a conversation!
Ask your baby questions and really give them time to answer before you answer for them. Point out things in pictures you know they recognize. Ask them how they are and wait for an answer (even if it isn't a real word). Respond to their babbles as if they already are talking in encouraging tones.
Language Development Is All About Fun
Ultimately, language development happens when your baby feels encouraged to try it out. You can encourage your baby by introducing them to new environments, giving them time to answer, and making sure to talk to them about the things they're most interested in.
Talking takes different amounts of time for each kid, but rest assured, with these tips you'll be on the right track.
Want some toys that are sure to help with other developmental milestones? Check out our selection of educational and stimulating baby toys!