Learning how to talk is an innate human ability that scarcely needs parental encouragement. As long as a child is around people who talk, he or she is eventually going to begin picking up on words, and adeptness with the language comes soon thereafter. However, the sooner a child learns how to talk, the sooner she can begin to communicate more complex things, learn to read, and socialize meaningfully with other children. As a parent, you may not be able to speed up the process significantly, but some babies do respond well to encouragement.
Development of communication
In the first months of your child’s life, you will already begin to notice her communication skills developing. When the baby starts making eye contact, this means she has registered the fact that there are other people and that the connection she has with them is meaningful. Soon thereafter, she will using an increasingly complex series of sounds to ask for things, to express distress, and later simply for the joy of interaction.
Within a few months of birth, the child begins to branch out with the sounds he makes. Rather than only crying and gurgling, he begins to make cooing sounds, and soon after that he starts babbling in a way that resembles talking. Like anything, learning to talk requires practice, and it will take your baby some time to get comfortable forming sounds. Then it will take still more time for him to learn to form these sounds in to words. But it will happen soon, and in the meantime do not be surprised if your child seems to understand some of your speech even though he cannot speak himself.
Children begin using real words at anywhere from six months to two years old. They usually start with simple, easy-to-pronounce words like mommy or kitty, and they branch out from there. Complete sentences usually take a few more months, depending on how much the child practices. Do not be alarmed if your child takes a little longer than normal to learn how to talk. This does not mean your child is slow or unintelligent. Kids just develop language capabilities at different rates.
Your child will learn to talk more-or-less at her own pace, but there are some things you can do to help the process along-for example:
- React to non-verbal talk. Even during the pre-linguistic stage, you can encourage your child’s budding skills be reacting warmly to his early speech-like sounds.
- Talk to your child constantly. It may not always seem like your child is listening, but she does enjoy the sound of your voice, and the steady stream of talk will help develop the linguistic part of her brain. Also, remember that for a while, your child is going to understand much more than she can say.
- Associate words with actions and gestures. For example, use the words kiss and hug when you kiss and hug your baby.
- Name things in the room. For example, when you are giving your child a bath, use the words water, soap, ducky, towel, and so on.
- When your child starts using real words, put those words into small, digestible sentences. For example, if her first word is kitty, say things like, Where is kitty? Kitty says meow, and There is the kitty.
- Name colors, use numbers, and associate animals with their sounds. Kids respond well to things they can see and touch, so introduce simple descriptive terms for things that your child interacts with regularly.
By Lisa Pecos