It is SO exciting when your little one utters their first word, be it mama, dadda or dog, it marks another stage in their ability to communicate with you ( which usually continues to develop until they reach the teenage stage and words suddenly change back into half grunts and babble!)
Talking and listening to your child is of fundamental importance, as it not only helps you bond, but it also aids brain function too. Your child’s brain is growing and developing the most during the first 3 years. Once your child is able to communicate with you using words, it helps to combat frustration ( you and them!) as they can verbally tell you if they are hungry, tired, what toy they want etc.
As we have said previously, if you talk or sing to your baby whilst they are still in your womb, they will be able to identify the sound of your voice from the moment they are born. So get into the habit of talking to them before they are born and most certainly after they are born. Your baby will love to hear the sound of your voice, they might not be able to understand what you are telling them, but they can respond to the tone of your voice.
Read on! Reading with your child is a wonderful activity, it helps you spend some quality time with them and it will also help them to hear your voice and eventually they will come to the recognise words. This is especially true if you re-read old favourites ( again and again!) as it helps build up recognition. But it really doesn’t matter what you choose to read in the very early stages, as long as you read!
Shh..! Quiet time does not have to be limited to libraries! Research has shown your little one will be able to absorb words and repeat them easier without the background interference of a TV or radio in the background.
Repeat after me! Don’t correct your child if they do not pronounce the words correctly, that will come in time. For example if they say babbit not rabbit just say, yes well done that’s a rabbit! Top tip! Do write down all those early words in a baby book or for your baby’s memory box, it’s fantastic to be able to look back as see how they built up their vocabulary and what they used to call things.
Point and say! Make sure you name objects and people, for instance at meal times, say what each item is, table, bib, spoon, cup and encourage your child to try and say the names too.
Rhyme time! Singing nursery rhymes is a great way to help your toddler to talk. You won’t believe how many you know from when you were little! Somehow or other we never forget the words! Did you know Hickory Dickory Dock, Miss Muffet and Round and round the garden like a teddy bear are the top 3 favourites according to a survey by the Booktrust?
Question time! Get started on your own questions before the tables are turned ( Why mummy?!) Ask your child if they want to play with teddy, or which dribble bib they want to wear, for example and wait for a response- even if your baby can’t respond yet, it teaches the art of conversation(-the pause and response)
Simple Simon Says- play games! Playing with your toddler is also a great way to encourage them to talk. For example you can do simple jigsaw puzzles together and point to things on the picture ( Cow, giraffe, apple etc). Playing Simple Simon or Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes is also a fun way of getting your child to know the name of things.
Word to the wise! Above all, do not worry if your child is not talking as much as other children are, chances are they are storing up all they know and will come out and recite whole passages of books they have been read instead! Remember, all children are different. If you are worried about your child’s development, have a word with your GP or Health Visitor.
Have you any tips you can share with us? What was the first word your little one said? Was it what you expected?!