Language is used everywhere around us, in multiple ways and in all facets of life. How does your little one learn language when she is so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? When you think about talking to your baby, it may seem a bit silly since she isn’t talking back. However, she is communicating with you in other ways, such as with eye gaze, coos, and smiles. Interacting and speaking to your baby throughout the day is thought to facilitate language acquisition. It has been found that the amount of words addressed to 1- to- 2-year olds by their mothers is predictive of their vocabulary growth rate (Huttenlocher, Haight, Bryk, Seltzer, & Lyons, 1991).
Here are 5 easy ways to encourage your baby’s language development throughout the day:
- Use infant-directed speech: Also known as motherese, this is speech that is directed specifically at your baby in a prosodic and deliberate manner. Research has shown that babies actually prefer motherese to its counterpart, adult-directed speech.
- Read books: Interacting and exposing your baby to books and the act of reading is a great way to encourage language. At this age, picture books are ideal and facilitate early learning of concepts such as colors, numbers, and animals. It also helps teach book orientation and direction of reading.
- Label: Give your child the names for common objects and objects that they are consistently exposed to. This input increases receptive language which will in turn increase expressive language. Thanks to fast-mapping (the ability to learn words with minimal exposure), typically-developing toddlers require minimal exposure to new words in order to learn their meaning and use them appropriately.
- Sing songs: Singing songs to your child such as ‘Rock a Bye Baby’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ not only provides comfort but also includes exposure to repetitive language models.
- Use simple language: When speaking to your baby, use simple language by communicating in words and/or short phrases. This limits the amount of language that the child has to process and allows them to focus on the important parts of the message.
Before you know it (and before you may be ready for it), your baby will be talking, walking, and going to school. Facilitate their language learning by utilizing the tips mentioned above. If you become concerned (lack of interest, eye contact, gestures, and/or speech sounds, among others) with your baby’s language and speech skills, seek an evaluation with a certified speech and language pathologist.
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!
Reference: Huttenlocher, J., Haight, W., Bryk, A., Seltzer, M., & Lyons, T. (1991). Early vocabulary growth: Relation to language input and gender. Developmental Psychology, 27, 236-248.