As cute as ‘baby talk’ is, many parents would be overjoyed if their child was able to express his needs at a young age – the younger the better actually! But how exactly do we help our children to communicate effectively while they are still babies? Here is some information to help encourage your baby to develop communication skills early on.
Starting young to help your child develop communication skills
Some say it all begins in the womb. If you had “conversations” with your unborn child, he would take less time to get accustomed to your voice once he is born, and would instead, refocus his energy on trying to understand what you are saying.
This all means that his progress would be slightly faster than that of an infant who had not been exposed often to his parents’ voices while in-utero.
I recall fondly the times when my unborn son would swim vigorously within me while I would be trying to get some sleep. We would often read a short story to him, and then his father would stroke my swollen belly and coax him to lay still and allow me to sleep. The boy would always quieten down after that!
Showing them how you feel
Show your baby how you feel through ‘visual language’
Studies have shown that “visual language” – as in our facial expressions, the way our mouths move and body language – is a very important factor for babies to pick up speech and language.
Although most babies would not be able to speak until they are about 18-months-old, they would certainly be able to use their facial expressions to express how they feel. To assist them in being strong in “visual language” before they can speak, you can illustrate what you say with appropriate visual cues.
If you say “yes”, nod your head as you say it. When you say “no”, shake your head at the same time.
They will slowly learn to associate these simple head movements to the word – and the meaning behind it – and be able to answer simple questions before they turn a year old.
Enlisting communicative aids
If the idea sounds appealing to you, you may even choose to teach your baby to sign. Baby signing materials such as books, flashcards and videos are readily available in bookstores and can help your child communicate his basic needs to you via hand signs. There are even baby signing classes conducted in Singapore.
It is important to note, however, that not all babies respond well to picking up sign language. Some are simply not interested, while others are keen on learning and start to use the signs fairly quickly.
Some babies will somewhat restrict themselves to only learning and use a few signs that they find “useful”, such as the signs for “milk”, “eat” and “hug”. But nonetheless, that means less frustration for everyone as they can now easily tell you when they want something in particular!
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Going the long haul
The key to encouraging your baby to communicate early is allowing him to “speak.” Creating opportunities for him to respond to you would motivate your baby to pick up communication skills sooner.
For example, asking simple questions that require ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers would prompt him to master nodding and shaking his head.
You should also be consistent when talking to your baby so as not to confuse the little one until he can fully understand language and its subtleties.
For example, it would confuse him greatly as to whether something is actually “nice” if you use the term in a sarcastic manner. Remaining consistent with what you say will enforce the same message to your child and help them to pick it up faster through repetition.
How to develop baby’s communication skills according to age
Learning to talk is a process that begins in infancy when your infant hears how different voices might sound. By 2 years old, most babies have a broad vocabulary and can put words together to communicate their needs and ideas. Let’s examine how this process plays out and what you can do to help your kid communicate.
Here are some ideas to assist your baby in developing his communication abilities, depending on what stage of life he’s in.
From Birth to 3 Months
Your infant hears your voice. He coos and gurgles and attempts to imitate your sounds. You may teach your infant about nice voices by doing the following:
- Sing to your child. This is something you can do even before he is born! Your infant will be able to hear you.
- When she is nearby, converse with others. She won’t comprehend the words, but she will learn from the tone of your voice. She will also appreciate hearing and seeing other individuals.
- Make time for solitude. Babies require time to chatter and play quietly, away from TV, radio, and other distractions.
From 3 to 6 Months
Your child is learning how people communicate with one another. You assist him in becoming a “talker” when you:
- Keep your baby close so he can look you in the eyes.
- Speak to him and smile at him.
- When your infant babbles, try to mimic the noises.
- If he tries to create the same sound as you, repeat the word.
From 6 to 9 Months
Your infant is starting to experiment with sounds. Some of these sound like words, such as “baba” or “dada,” and the baby smiles when he hears a happy voice and cries or looks upset when he hears an angry one. You can assist your infant to learn words (even if she can’t yet utter them) by doing the following:
- Have fun with games like Peek-a-Boo and Pat-a-Cake. Assist her in moving her hands in time with the rhyme.
- Hand her a toy and say something to her about it, such as “Feel how fluffy Teddy Bear is.”
- Have her look in the mirror and ask, “Who’s that?” “Say her name if she doesn’t react.”
- Pose questions to your infant, such as “Where’s doggie?” ” If she does not respond, show her where.
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From 9 to 12 Months
Your infant can already understand simple words at this time. If you say “no-no,” she looks at you; if someone asks, “Where’s Mummy?” she looks at you. She’ll look for you. She will “tell” you what she wants by pointing, making sounds, and using her body.
She may, for example, gaze up at you and raise her arms to show you she “wants up,” or she may hand you a toy to indicate she wants to play. You can assist your infant with “talking” by showing her how to wave “bye-bye.”
From 12 to 15 Months
Babies begin to speak. This includes consistently utilising the same sounds to identify an object, such as “baba” for bottle or “juju” for juice.
Many babies understand 25 or more words and can say one or two words. If you ask, he will offer you a toy. Even without words, he can request something by pointing, grasping for it, or chattering at it. You can assist your youngster in saying the words he knows by:
- Talk about the words you use, such as “cup,” “juice,” and “doll,” and give your child the opportunity to name them.
- Inquire with your youngster about the pictures in books. Allow your youngster time to name the objects in the photo.
- When your child names what he sees, smile or clap your hands. Make your feelings known. “You notice the doggie?” He’s enormous! “Look at the way his tail wags.”
- Discuss what your youngster is most interested in talking about. Allow him time to tell you everything.
- Inquire about activities you do every day—”Which shirt will you wear today?” “Would you like milk or juice?”
- Expand on what your child has said. “That’s your huge, red ball,” you can say if he says “ball.”
- Encourage pretend play with your child’s favourite doll or stuffed animal. Incorporate it into your conversations and games. “Rover wants to play as well.” Can he join us in rolling the ball? ”
From 15 to 18 Months
Your child will communicate with you using more complicated gestures and will continue to expand her language. She may grab your hand, lead you to the bookshelf, point to a book, and say “buk” to indicate, “I want to read a book with you.” You can assist your child with communicating with you by:
- Tell her, “Show me your nose,” and then point to it. She’ll be pointing to her nose in no time. Repeat with your toes, fingers, ears, eyes, knees, and so on.
- Hide a toy while she’s looking. Assist her in finding it and participate in her joy.
- When he points to or hands you something, discuss it with her. “You gave the book to me. Thank you very much! Take a look at the infant rolling the ball.”
From 18 Months to 2 Years
Your baby will be able to follow orders and start putting words together, such as “car go” or “want juice,” and he will also begin to engage in pretend play, which promotes language development. You may help your child’s communication abilities by doing the following:
- Request assistance from your child. For example, request that he place his cup on the table or bring you his shoe.
- Introduce simple songs and nursery rhymes to your youngster.
- Request that he points to something and tell you what he sees.
- Encourage your youngster to communicate with friends and relatives. He’ll be able to inform them about a new gadget.
- Allow your child to engage in pretend play. You can converse on a toy phone, feed the dolls, or host a toy animal party.
From 2 to 3 Years
Your child’s linguistic skills will improve dramatically. He will be able to put more words together to form simple statements, such as “Mommy go bye-bye,” and to respond to simple queries, such as “Where is your bear?”
By 36 months, he’ll be able to respond to more complex inquiries like, “What do you do when you’re hungry?” He will engage in an increasing amount of pretend play, acting out imaginary events such as going to work, fixing the toy car, and caring for his “family” (of dolls, animals).
You can assist your child in putting all of his new words together and teaching him crucial information when you:
- Teach your child his or her first and last name.
- Inquire about the number, size, and shape of the items your youngster displays to you.
- Ask open-ended questions with no “yes” or “no” answers. This assists kids in developing their own thoughts and learning how to convey them. If it’s worms, you could say something like, “What fat, wiggly worms!” How many are there in total? Where are they going?” Wait, watch, and listen for the response. If necessary, you can offer an answer: “I see five.”
- Request that your youngster tell you the tale that corresponds with a beloved book. “What happened to those three pigs?” Reading promotes language development. Bring him to your local library for storytime. Your child will appreciate sharing books with both you and his or her pals.
- Engage in a lot of pretend play. Acting out stories and role-playing provide numerous chances for language use and development.
- Don’t forget what worked in the past. Your youngster, for example, still requires quiet time. This isn’t only for snoozing. Turn off the TV and radio and allow your child to engage in silent play, singing, and conversation with you.
Image Source: Pexels
Patience will pay off
If your best efforts have not paid off yet, do not worry. Your child will incorporate all that you have taught him once he is ready. If you are speaking at least 2 languages to your child, it would take him a little bit longer to catch up on everything, due to a slight “information overload”.
Meanwhile, don’t stop talking to your little one as the more you speak to your child, the more he will learn from you. So keep on talking!
Source: Huggies, zerotothree.org