Kids Connection – Baby talk begins at birth!

Kids Connection Article
Chaffee County Early Childhood Council
May 21, 2014

Baby talk begins at birth!

From the first moments a baby is born, he or she recognizes your voice; finding comfort and connection by the soft tone and words you use.  This is the beginning of language development and communication as well as the development of many other competencies needed for success.

Language development is an important part of relationships with people and with the surrounding world, the foundation of important emotional skills.  When a child is able to express his or her needs effectively there is a stronger sense of self and security.  It also helps with thinking and brain development, making it possible for successful reasoning and choices.  The security of knowing needs can be expressed and then fulfilled provides physical, emotional, and mental support for healthy growth.

Children understand more than they can express and this gradual process should not be misinterpreted as not being aware or not developing. Their brains are constantly processing and evolving. Consider these signs of development along with tips to support growth.

From 4 to 8 months:

– Repeat important words to your baby so they begin associating meaning.  This includes saying their name often so they know who they are.  Also repeat names of objects or actions that are a regular part of their day.
– Imitate simple sounds creating a game of say and repeat.  This helps a baby connect with you in the first stages of communication.  It also helps them practice and develop sounds that form words.
– Read books even at this early age.  Books with repetitive sounds are especially important.

From 9 to 18 months:

– At this age babies begin following simple directions such as pick up the book or roll the ball.  It shows that they understand the words connected to objects and actions.
– During this stage, you can begin expanding their vocabulary using new words that describe an object.
– Play the Name Game – What is this? (as you point to your nose/ear or as you pick up a ball or block).
– Read and repeat.  Babies love to read the same book over and over as they become familiar with words and sounds.

From 19-36 months:

– Use fancy and fun words to expand their vocabulary and understanding.  “Let’s walk like an elephant. Stomp. Boom. Stomp. Boom. Elephants take up lots of room!”
– Listen patiently.  Focus on what the child is trying to say versus correcting their pronunciation or grammar.  Once you understand you can repeat the word or the phrase in a new way.  “Oh, you want a cracker. Yes, you can have another cracker.”

From 3 to 5 years:

– Focus on asking open ended questions that require more than yes or no.  This allows the child to express his or her own thoughts and try new words.
– Encourage them to tell you stories.

These simple tips for all ages will help your child as they gain confidence in speaking and listening – the art of conversation and connection.

Remember that if you notice your child is not responding as you think they should, it may be a sign that he or she may need different methods to adapt.  Please let your health care provider know of any questions you have.  The earlier the support, the better chance for stronger outcomes.

Lezlie Burkley writes for the Chaffee County Early Childhood Council. For more tips on raising young children, visit www.ccecc.org  or call 719-221-5114.