GREENSBORO, N.C. — Babies are learning language from the moment they are born, according to Guilford Basics. To a newborn, speech is just sound. Then, day by day, they learn sounds have meaning. This process depends on how much people talk to them. Every time you talk, sing or point to what you are talking about, you provide clues to the meaning of what you are saying. You are 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!
Tips for infants newborn to 12 months
Talk A Lot Talk to your baby from the time they are born during activities like changing, feeding, bathing and while running errands. Describe what you are doing. Label the objects around you by naming and pointing to them.
Go Back and Forth When your baby makes a sound, show excitement in your face and voice! Respond to their sound with words. See how long you can keep the “conversation” going. It is very powerful when the two of you can stay focused on each other for a while.
Use a Playful Voice Talk with a gentle, playful voice. Exaggerate the sounds of the words. This may feel silly at first, but it is actually very important. Babies pay extra attention and learn more when you talk this way.
Use Real Words Don’t just use “baby talk,” also use real words. The more words your baby hears, the larger their vocabulary will grow. Think of words as nourishment for your baby’s brain!
Sing Sing songs to your baby. This is a fun way for them to learn language. You might have certain songs for special times of the day, like bath time or before bedtime.
Use Any Language It doesn’t matter what language you speak with your infant. All languages are equally beneficial.
Tips for toddlers 12 to 36 months
Describe Life Talk about the things you’re doing and what is going on around you. Have conversations as you walk around the neighborhood or do errands.
Be Specific The more specific you can be with words, the more your child will learn. For example, instead of saying “Let’s go,” you could say, “Let’s go shopping at the grocery store to buy some food.”
Add Ideas Help grow your child’s vocabulary by expanding on what he says. For example, if he says “doggie,” you can respond with, “Yes, that is a doggie. That doggie is brown and soft.”
Listen and Respond Listen to your toddler’s questions and answer them. Have a conversation. This is when the most powerful learning takes place.
Ask Questions Get your toddler thinking. Have them explain what they are doing or what they think is going to happen. You may get some funny answers!
Use Your Hands When you talk about something, point to it. This helps your child understand what you mean. Encourage your child to point too. “Can you point to the triangle?” This will help them connect new words to the objects they represent.
Sing and Recite Sing songs and recite nursery rhymes. Choose ones you remember from your own childhood, read in books, or make up new ones.
Use Any Language It doesn’t matter what language you speak with your toddler. All languages are equally beneficial.