Language skills are being developed from the day your baby is born. Expressive Language is shown when your baby cries to express what they want or need. Receptive language is the understanding of language which is forming every time you talk to your beautiful baby.
Some of the signs that these skills are emerging may appear very subtle. If you look closely you will notice your baby doing little things that are helping him learn about his environment and process new information.
All children develop differently so know that if your baby is not doing the exact same things as your best friend’s, that is ok. However, if you are concerned about your little one’s development always seek out the Early Intervention program in your area for a free screening or evaluation.
In this post I will give you information about what language skills look like and how to encourage language skills in babies from birth to three months.
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0-3 MONTHS LANGUAGE SKILLS INCLUDE:
Hearing your baby’s cries is a sign that they are working on their expressive language. By crying they are indicating they need something whether it be milk, a clean diaper, or just a snuggle. If you listen closely you will notice their cries change a bit depending on what they want. The pitch, volume, or duration may change to indicate they are hungry or just need a nap.
COOING, LAUGHING, AND SMILING
One of the best moments in any new mom’s life is when she hears her little one coo or giggle for the first time. They may be responding to you or maybe it is just gas, but the sound is delightful and a sign that your baby is able to express themselves. Smiling in response to hearing their mother’s voice is also a cue that they are able to respond to their environment and express happiness in who is near.
RESPONDING TO SOUNDS AND VOICES
Your little one may stop moving and become still when they hear a new sound so that they can take it all in. They may also do the opposite by startling. Both of these reactions show that your little one has heard something that they are unsure of and are trying to process and respond to the information present.
This indicates that your little one’s receptive language skills are in place. Most hospitals do a hearing test very soon after birth to ensure your baby is hearing, as it is a critical way for them to take in information.
HOW YOU CAN ENCOURAGE 0-3 month LANGUAGE SKILLS:
Monkey hear, monkey say! Babies need to hear lots and lots of words before they are able to start speaking themselves. Not only do they need to hear a lot of different words, but they also need to hear each word many times in order to repeat it. If you start labeling objects, feelings, actions, and people from day one your little one will be able to imitate those words down the road.
You can introduce your baby to many words by narrating your day. Talk about what you are going to make for dinner or talk about a what you see while driving in the car. If you speak multiple languages feel free to speak both to them while they are babies. This will allow them to learn both, instead of having to teach them later on in life. There are many benefits for children that grow up bilingual!
What is special about singing is it allows your baby to hear new words in a repetitive way. We know that repetition is important in order for a baby to learn a word and singing naturally does that for us. You can sing simple rhymes during diaper changes or make up your own tunes throughout the day. Turn on music while in the car and sing along to the tunes.
Make silly faces, blow raspberries and play peek-a-boo with your baby. These classic games engage your little one and get them interested in you! In order for a baby to learn to imitate they need to first be able to watch you. Watch how they respond to see which silly faces they like the most.
When your baby starts to make little coos and sounds try to imitate them. Your baby will find this interesting and may even try to have a mini conversation with you. Go along with it and see what silly sounds you both can make.
Reading is one of the most powerful ways to work on language development with you little one. Start with soft squishy books (like these) with simple pictures. Label the pictures for your baby and let them explore the book with their hands. Comment when they vocalize at the pictures to let them know you hear them. Magazines are also a great option as they provide a different type of literacy experience (you can check some out here).
3-6 MONTHS LANGUAGE SKILLS INCLUDE:
You are starting to hear some new and exciting sounds from your baby. The smiles are starting to have sound behind them as you hear baby’s first giggles and laughs. They also may be trying to get your attention by squealing! Listen closely to hear all the things your baby is starting to express.
Your baby is starting to “talk” by exploring all the new sounds they can make. You are starting to hear consonants like “baba”. They are not just babbling to themselves either, you may notice they are looking at you and the other people around them trying to have a conversation. If you sing or turn on music your baby may respond to it by cooing along!
Looking When Name is Heard
Is your baby responding to their own name? They may respond by looking towards it when they hear it or even vocalize back! This exciting skill usually happens closer to 6 or 7 months, but it is never too early to start practicing.
HOW YOu Can ENCOURAGE 3-6 month LANGUAGE SKILLS:
While you are going about your day, talk about what you are doing. Your baby needs to hear words over and over again to understand them and begin using them to express themselves. For example, if you are cooking dinner let your little one know about all of the ingredients. Show them to them and talk about how they taste.
No…not the kind you use with the Iphone…actual face time with your baby is a great way to model language. It is very helpful for your baby to see you while you are talking or making sounds. This way they can imitate your mouth instead of just trying to do it by ear. A perfect time To focus on this is during diaper changes when your baby is in a great position to see you clearly.
Make silly faces at your little one to see if you can get them to imitate you. Stick out your tongue or blow a raspberry to see if your baby tries to imitate. Language development requires lots of watching and imitating in order to learn the sounds in words.
Making silly faces is a great way to get your baby to practice looking at you and trying to imitate. Give your baby an unbreakable mirror (like this one) to let them practice this skill in a different way.
Singing works wonderfully to teach babies language because of the natural repetition. By singing to your baby it allows them to hear words over and over again which makes them easier to learn. Singing is the perfect tool to help establish a smooth transition to bedtime or distract your baby during a diaper change.
Want to Learn More About Your Baby’s Development?
Make sure to sign up for the FREE Baby Milestone Boot Camp Course to learn all about your baby! This 5 day course will give you the run down of what milestones look like in all areas of development, a checklist to track what your baby’s doing, and simple ways to encourage their development. Sign up below!
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