As parents, we are all too familiar with our baby crying, in this post, we provide information, from Speech Pathology Australia, on how to help your baby in their development of language. It explains some basic concepts and the difference between receptive and expressive language, as well as providing some tips on what you can do to assist your child.
Fact Sheet on Helping Your Baby Talk - Speech Pathology Australia
Language is fundamental to your baby’s development. Every baby learns to speak by listening, playing with sounds and talking to others.
Babies begin to learn from the moment they are born – first receptive language skills (understanding what they hear), then expressive language skills (speaking).
You can help develop both kinds of language skills by talking, watching, listening, playing and sharing books with your baby.
Talk to your baby often, speaking slowly, clearly and simply
Emphasise words for the objects most commonly used in your baby’s world
Use a variety of words to describe what is happening around you, not just the names of things
Repeat words – your baby will begin to understand the meaning of them if they hear them often
Imitate the sounds your baby makes or say the word they may be trying to use
Comment on the sounds you hear to draw your baby’s attention to the sound
Take turns when you talk and play, pausing to listen and speak just like you would in an adult conversation.
Babies learn about talking and listening through play, so it’s important to set aside time to play with your baby each day
Create opportunities for your baby to play with other children by joining a play group or toy library, or spending time with people who also have young children
Watch your baby and copy their actions and sounds. Show them new actions and activities
Choose games and toys appropriate to your baby’s age that encourage exploration, problem solving and interaction between you and your baby
Finger games, soft dolls and stuffed toys, balls, blocks and activity boards all help to develop your baby’s fingers and hands, as well as listening and learning skills
Build a repertoire of songs and rhymes. Singing the same words over and over again will help your baby learn language and rhythm.
Early reading promotes good language and thinking skills, preparing children for learning to read and write.
Read to and with your baby from birth – make books part of your daily routine
Choose books with large, bright pictures. Babies love pictures of other babies and photos of their family
Point to and name objects, animals or people – eventually your baby will respond
Let your baby show books to you. Visit your local library, and choose books together
Read your baby’s favourite books again and again!
All babies develop at different rates, however before their first birthday most babies:
are interested in watching your face
show delight when you reply to their chatter
respond to you imitating them
notice familiar sounds and voices
recognise familiar people and respond to them
enjoy books and music
play with sounds (babbling) and words
respond to their name, basic commands – such as ‘no’ – and the names of familiar objects
enjoy and participate in daily routines, such as bath/bed times
participate in action songs.
Most babies say their first words between 12 and 18 months, although the words may not sound exactly like they should (e.g. ‘ba’ for ball or ‘mumu’ for milk).
Just before they turn two, children will have a burst of language development and have a vocabulary of around 50 words, then start joining words together by around two and a half. Most three year olds will use three to four word sentences and be understood by familiar adults, while by the age of four children will generally use four to five word grammatically correct sentences that are able to be understood by everyone.
The fact sheet was written by Speech Pathology Australia.
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In our next post on Speech Pathology I'll discuss the ages and stages of children's speech development.