When your baby finally says his or her first word, you will be filled with an indescribable emotion of pride and happiness. But actually baby’s first words are the culmination (or rather, the beginning of a new chapter) of months and months of experiences.
When babies first enter this world, they can’t talk, and the only way they can express themselves is through their cries and smiles. As they get older, they begin to coo and imitate your own sounds. At 6 months of age, your baby will begin babbling in repetitive, simple sounds. For example, your child may say “da-da.” It’s important to remember, however, that these sounds don’t actually mean anything. While it may be exciting to hear your child say what sounds like “dad,” in truth, they are just putting meaningless sounds together. This will continue for the next couple of months until around one year of age when most babies will begin saying easy words, such as “dadda.” The difference is this time when they say such sounds, they have actual meaning. At this point, they can also understand a lot of what you say too, so be conscious of your language and how it will affect your developing child.
By around 16 months of age, your child will be able to say many words, maybe even simple sentences. In this case, however, there is a difference between baby boys and baby girls. Girls will be able to say an average of 50 words; boys will say an average of 30 (sorry boys!).
So how can you help your baby learn to speak? What can you do to encourage his/her language development?
Talk to your baby as often as possible. Narrate what you’re doing: when you are pouring yourself a bowl of cereal, changing baby into pajamas, sweeping the floor, etc…whatever you do, explain it to baby. Make sure you keep your words age-appropriate. Even if your baby can’t understand everything you are saying, hearing you say these words over and over will help familiarize them with all these sounds. Respond to everything your baby does. Also, give names to everything. When you’re giving baby a diaper change, say the word diaper and hold up the cloth. When you’re putting baby down for a nap, say baby blankets. You can even point out baby’s name on his very own personalized baby blanket so your child can learn to recognize and even say his name.
Make silly mistakes for your toddler to correct. For instance, if you are dressing your child, pick up baby’s sock and say, “Now let’s put on your shirt!” Let your child correct you and laugh at the same time.
Read as many children’s books as you can together. And don’t just read the exact words that are on the page. Come up with stories for the cute pictures or characters on each page. Ask your child questions about what they think will happen next, why they think characters acted the way they did, or even just comment on what a character is wearing.
Give Them A Chance To Ask
Although when your child finishes their juice, your first response may be to refill their sippy-cup immediately–don’t! Let your child learn to ask for more to drink or eat. Such a practice will help your child learn to say even more words. The one exception to this is when holding off from helping baby presents a hazard to his health. For instance, if your child looks chilly, don’t wait for him to tell you. Instead use different types of baby blankets to snuggle your little angel right away to prevent him/her from getting too cold.