Children learn language from the moment they are born. Day by day, babies learn that sounds have meaning. Every time you talk, sing, or point, you provide clues to the meaning of your words.
We neglect the power and significance of interactions like talking, singing and pointing because they seem so simple. But simplicity is what makes them so wonderful. Anyone can talk, sing, or point when interacting with a baby or young child.
This is why “Talking, Singing and Pointing” is the second of the 5 Basics.
Here are tips on everyday ways to interact with your young child at each stage of language development during the first year! *
Birth – 3 months:
Talk as you go about your daily routine –as you change her diaper, give him a bath, ride in the car, or cuddle up for feeding time. Remember, your voice is your baby’s favorite sound!
Sing! From nursery rhyme songs to your favorite tune on the radio, singing to your baby helps stimulate the brain and make important neural connections.
Don’t worry that your baby doesn’t comprehend what you’re saying or singing. This stage is simply about exposure to language. Eventually, your baby will begin to make connections and understand that words have meaning.
3 to 6 Months:
As you continue to talk and sing to your baby, he is learning how to “talk” back in the form of coos and giggles and mimicking simple sounds.
When your baby talks, you can imitate the sound and wait for him to respond. You may discover that he tries to makes the same sound you make. If he does, smile and make the sound again. These sweet exchanges between you and your baby are the important beginnings of conversation!
Your baby may begin to say simple words like “baba” and “dada.” She can also respond to emotion. A happy voice may make her smile and an angry voice may make her appear unhappy.
During this stage, your baby can enjoy interactive games like “pat-a-cake.” (As you sing, take her hands and teach her how to pat yours.) Give her simple objects like a stuffed animal and say, “Can you pat the doggie? He feels soft.”
Look in the mirror and point to her, saying, “Who is that?” She may lean in to touch herself in the mirror. You can respond, “That’s Kate!”
Have fun during this stage as you play games, ask questions, and point to objects while naming them. Everything is brand new to your child and they love learning about the exciting world around them. Simple, daily interactions are building the brain in powerful ways!
9 to 12 Months
It’s amazing how brilliant your baby has become in just 9-12 short months. Imagine your tiny newborn. Now consider the fact that he is already communicating with gestures and simple words!
If you say “no,” your baby will stop and look at you. If you ask where someone is, he will look around to find them.” He may point to an object, curious to know what it is, or notice a favorite animal and make the sound that animal makes.
Your baby’s language development depends on how much people talk to them. Every time you talk, sing, or point, you’re providing important information to their brains about how language works.
As your child develops, talking with them and answering their questions is a way to teach them about the world. By talking with them, you will also get to know the fascinating person they are becoming. Remember that you are your child’s first and most important teacher!
The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!
Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:
- Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are "Talking, Singing, and Pointing" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
- Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
- Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
- If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!
*These tips on early language development adapted from resources at Zero to Three.