5 Ways To Encourage Your Baby’s Speech
Over the coming months, prepare yourself to hear your baby’s babbling turn into effusive first words as she discovers her voice and chats up a storm!
Soon, those first babbling sounds will become more and more recognisable, with sounds like ‘mama’, ‘dada’ and ‘gaga’ being the most common.
Although at this stage the words may not have any meaning to them, you can help your baby to gain more understanding by playing games, repeating words and looking at books together – these will all improve your baby’s language skills.
Your baby’s first words are thrilling for you both, and as your child starts to speak, here are a few ways you can help:
1. Narrate your actions
You may find that you are already doing this, and that it comes as second nature to just chat away to your baby about what you’re doing, who you’re going to go and see, what you’ll do there, and so on. You might find like you are constantly stating the obvious, or that you look a bit ridiculous, but rest assured that this is a fundamental way for your child to learn.
2. Speak slowly and clearly
Become aware of how you speak. Try to enunciate clearly, don’t rush and let your child see your face when you speak. Experts also advise against the use of ‘baby talk’ when speaking to your little one, try to teach them the right words from the beginning.
3. Build vocabulary
By naming what you see and keeping up your one-sided conversation with your child, you are giving them a great basis for speech and communication. Now start to introduce additional vocabulary and skills – for example, colours, names and numbers. ‘Look at the red fire engine’, ‘here’s your green cup’, ‘say hello to Granny’ or counting her fingers and toes all help to reinforce language.
4. Repeat and build
When your child does start to speak, repetition is a key factor in how she will learn, so reply when she speaks and add something to describe it – ‘car’ becomes ‘yes, a blue car’. If she mispronounces a word, repeat it correctly rather than telling her she got it wrong.
5. Read to your child
One of the most wonderful ways to help your child to develop speech, comprehension, and vocabulary is to read to her. At this young age, a story may not hold her attention, but picture books where you can point out different elements and talk about what’s happening are ideal. As the book becomes more familiar, pointing to something and asking ‘what’s this?’ or ‘where is the…?’ will start to elicit a response.
Babies can understand what you say and make the connection between words and objects long before they can articulate coherently. On average, babies will have a few words by the first birthday, and by fifteen to eighteen months they may have added about twenty words to their vocabulary. Get ready for lots of chatting!
What was your baby’s first word? Leave a comment below and let us know