December 27, 2013


Baby Talk: The Foundation for Language Development

Is there a sweeter sound than that of a baby’s coo? Ever wonder how your baby learned to do that?

Well, he learned it from you!

According to language development researchers, babies are born preprogrammed to learn language. And early positive experiences with their parents and caregivers are critical for later language development.

A baby’s first exchange of communication with the new world begins the moment after birth. Over the following weeks and months, he will soak up and store information like a sponge. He will also learn that when he is hungry, uncomfortable or in pain, he can cry very loudly and his mother or father will come right away.

How parents respond to a baby’s desire to communicate plays a large role in his speech and language development.

To help get you started, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends the following activities for children age birth to 2 years.

  • Reinforce attempts by maintaining eye contact, responding with speech and imitating vocalizations.
  • Imitate your baby’s laughter and facial expressions.
  • Use gestures such as waving goodbye to help convey meaning.
  • Expand on single words your baby uses: “Here is Mama. Mama loves you. Where is baby? Here is baby.”
  • Read to your child. Sometimes reading is simply describing the pictures in a book without following the written words.

Once a baby learns how to have her basic needs met, she becomes comfortable and alert.  She also learns to enjoy communication, including nonverbal eye contact, smiles and sounds that set the stage for later language development.

For a complete list of simple activities that will help encourage speech and language development in children ages birth to 6 years, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s website.