Your baby is wired to learn language and ready to engage with you. Try these tips below to maximise your baby’s learning.
Babies learn through every interaction they have with you. When they start to babble with you in earnest, it is a great time to start a conversation. You can do this by making eye contact and listening to their sounds and then making the same sounds back to them. Your baby will stop and listen to you and then when you are finished, they will have another turn.
You might also like to use real words in your conversation. Listen to your baby and then respond “Is that right? Pause. It is a windy day. Pause.What a clever baby. Pause You’re making wonderful sounds”.
You baby is learning early turn taking and conversation skills. Researchers call this the process of interaction ‘serve and return’. Learn more about ‘serve and return’.
Be playful and engaging
Your baby will be most interested in you if you are being playful and having fun. They love to see your animated facial expressions and excited noises. Singing songs, playing hide and seek and giving tickles are all great ways to be playful.
Finding a communication opportunity
Think about times that you spend with your baby each day. Every activity is a language learning opportunity (for example dressing, meal times,bath time, in the car, hanging out the washing, tidying the house). Think about:
ways to include your baby in these activities (for example when you are hanging out the washing, give your baby some pegs to play with)
words and sentences you could you use to model language (‘washing is wet’, ‘hang it out’, ‘need some pegs’, ‘mummy’s skirt’, ‘your singlet’)
rhymes and songs you could sing during these everyday activities (Wet washing hanging on the line, This is the way we…)
making the activity into a game (e.g. play peek-a-boo as you hang out the washing)
Explore sounds together
Your baby will be learning how to control their voice and making all kinds of wonderful sounds. Listen carefully and copy your baby. Make different and interesting sounds with your voice too. Other ways to explore sounds include:
look at pictures of animals in books and make the corresponding sound
play with simple musical instruments such as shakers, bells and castanets
make fun sounds in your play
‘Map’ words onto experiences
This means talking with your baby while an experience is happening so that in their mind they can “map” the words that you are saying onto the physical experience. This promotes the development of strong links or neural connections within their brain between what the object looks, feels, sounds and tastes like and what it is called. Doing this is easy. Look at what your baby is engaged with. If it is a toy car, talk about the car, show them the wheels and talk about the wheels, move the car and say “brmm”.
Talk about the ‘here and now’
Always talk about what you and your child are doing in the present moment. This enables your child to “map” the words onto the physical experience which promotes learning. Talking about things that have happened in the past or are going to happen in the future it is too abstract for young babies.
Talk about what your baby can see, smell, feel and hear.
‘What a noisy doggie. Woof woof woof. The doggie says woof’.