From the moment your baby is born, they begin to learn language skills from the people and environment around them. They slowly go through various stages of language development from babbling to gesturing until they finally develop speech. This final stage of language development is acquired through your baby listening to people talk, talking to others and also playing with sounds and words.
So how can you as a parent help your baby on the road to talking?
By introducing baby sign language into your home you can assist with your babys language development and vocabulary building. Baby sign language helps bridge the gap of communication for parents by enabling pre-verbal babies to communicate using basic sign language.
Baby sign language can help your babys receptive and expressive language skills. Receptive skills are where your baby begins to understand what they are hearing. These receptive skills then later develop onto expressive skills or speech.
To help encourage speech:
– Talk to your baby.
Talk to your baby frequently and make sure that you speak slowly as this will allow your baby the opportunity to listen to the words you are saying and the sounds you are making.
– Focus on single words from your babys everyday life.
Baby sign language can help as you introduce one key word and sign at a time from your babys environment such as eat, drink, milk, more etc.
– Use a variety of other words.
While focusing on the keywords that are important in your babys life dont forget to use a variety of other words around your baby to help expand their understanding of their environment.
– Wait for responses from your baby.
Give them a chance to talk back, listen to the sounds they make as they try to communicate. Also watch for those early gestures as they try to imitate signs you have introduced to them.
– Encourage their efforts.
As they begin to express new sounds imitate these sounds back to them and praise them for their attempts.
– Listen to your baby.
When playing and talking with your baby listen to them and what they are trying to communicate to you, the same as you would in an adult conversation.
– Play with your baby.
Use games such as hiding games or peek-a-boo to encourage actions, facial expressions and sounds.
– Read to your baby.
Use books with bright colours and pictures. As your baby develops, their interests in books change. To find out more information on early literacy visit http://www.australianbabyhands.com/baby-sign-language-articles/earlyliteracy.html.
– Sing to your baby.
Have a list of songs that you sing regularly to your baby. Singing traditional nursery rhymes that make you repeat words over and over may be a tedious task for you but it is great for your babys learning.
– Develop your babys hearing skills.
Point out sounds to your baby as they occur such as a dog barking, the doorbell ringing, a car starting or a plane flying by.
Most babies begin on the road to talking between 12 and 18 months of age. Once this occurs, your baby will be constantly adding to their vocabulary and by the age of two and a half, will begin joining words together. Baby developmental guidelines for baby’s from one month to 24 months can be viewed here http://www.australianbabyhands.com/baby-sign-language-articles/development.html
So When Should I Seek Help Concerning My Babys Language Development?
As highlighted by Speech Pathology Australia on their website, here are some pointers to look out for if you are considering seeking help concerning your babys language development:
– your baby does not seem to listen to you, enjoy sounds or respond to them
– your baby has difficulty sucking, chewing, swallowing or biting
– your baby isnt using real words by 18 months of age
– your toddler is frustrated by not being able to speak to others
– your toddler has trouble understanding what you say
– your toddler stutters
– your toddler has an unusual voice, for example it sounds husky
– your toddler isnt trying to make sentences by two and a half years.
As a parent you play a very important role in your babys language development. By using any of the points mentioned above you can actively assist in your babys language learning and help your baby on the road to verbal communication.