Did you know that from the moment your baby is
born, he/she begins to communicate? Crying is a babies’ main form of communication initially but as they grow and develop they are capable of much more.
New parents often wonder what to expect next and how to know if their baby’s development is on target. Below are some communication targets to look for. Remember, there is a range of what is considered “typical” development.
By 3 months
- Make cooing sounds
- Smile at you
- Cry to get attention
- Make brief eye contact
- Respond to human voice
- Engage in back and forth vocal exchange with another person
By 6 months
- Babble (your baby produces various speech sounds such as, “buh”, “ma”, “guh”
- Vocalize pleasure and displeasure
- Respon to hearing his/her own name
- Smile and laugh aloud
- Begin to imitate sounds
- Look toward the source of the sound
- Smile at you and other family members
By 9 months
- Babble a series of sounds “mamama”, “tuhtuhtuh”
- Understand “no”
- Respond with gestures to another person’s gestures and accompanying words (e.g. when you wave and say “bye bye”, your child also waves
- Looks at some familiar objects when named
- Recognizes family members names (e.g. looks or turns his/her head in direction of the person)
- Begin to imitate various sounds
- Look toward the source of the sound
By 12 months
- Use lots of sounds and maybe say his/her first word
- Babble with a singsong pattern
- Follow simple directions with gestures
- Show you things that interest him/her by giving, reaching or pointing
- Play social games like peekaboo
- Gesture and/or vocalize to indicate wants and needs
Tips to support your baby’s communication
- Get FACE to FACE (when your child can see your face they know they have your attention but also they can see how you are forming words)
- WAIT! Give your child a chance to say or do something first. This gives you a chance to see what he/she is interested in.
- Imitate what your child has said or done so he/she knows you are interested and confirms to your child that you heard them. Repeat what your child has said back using the proper sounds and grammar.
- Follow your child’s lead when they start a game. Play how they want to play.
- Interpret your child’s babble/actions (E.g. Your child points to the juice. You say “juice”.
- Don’t say “say”. When parents constantly tell their children “say baby”, “say bottle”, it adds a lot of pressure. Instead, model the word you would like your child to say/imitate (E.g.,“Look! Bottle! I see a bottle!”)
- Talk about what you and your child are doing (this is when your child will learn the most as they are engaged and interested in the activity)
- Use comments rather than questions to start an interaction with your baby. Try, “The bunny is hopping” instead of “Is your bunny hopping?”
- REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! Children need to hear words many times to understand and eventually use the label on their own (E.g., “Ball. Round ball. Bounce the ball. Ball.”)
- Expand your child’s words and sentences by “adding on”. Eg., Your child says “juice”, you can say “open juice.”
You can help your baby learn to speak and understand words!
During the first year of your baby’s life, the way he/she communicates changes. Initially, your baby communicates through crying, looking, smiles and sounds.
As a parent, you play an important role in helping your child build his/her communication skills. Included is a list of suggestions to try with your baby during his/her first year and beyond. Have fun!
- Use a lot of facial expressions and stay face to face when speaking with your baby
- Use various intonations in your voice
- Talk with your baby (great times to talk with your baby are during bathtime, while feeding or getting them dressed)
- Label items your child appears interested in (remember not to only label nouns but also action words “sleeping”, and descriptive words “soft”, etc.)
- Play WITH your child (ie. Get on the floor with your child and actively participate)
- Make fun animated sounds (e.g. car noises, animal noises, “weee” going down a slide, etc)
- Use gestures/actions at the same time as your words to help your baby understand
- Imitate your baby’s sounds and actions
- Point to family members when saying their name
- Hold objects in front of your mouth and name it before giving it to your child to allow him/her to see how you “make” sounds (for babies closer to 12 months)
- Be flexible with how your baby wants to play with toys (ie. Your baby may just want to empty containers and then fill them up again-wait to see what interests your baby)
If you are concerned or have any questions regarding your child’s speech and language milestones, please contact us today.