Here are some tips and tricks to help your baby develop language.

Vocabulary related:

  • Play what he is interested in so that he can learn words related to the activity. Mom and dad, you stimulate your child differently, therefore he learns different words. For example, men often play more physically than women with babies, favouring action words (verbs) such as “up”, “jump”, “throw”.
  • Talk to him and explain what you are doing.
  • Look at colorful books, read stories, point to an image and name the object or make the sound emitted by the pointed object or animal. Repeat this activity often.
  • Make gestures and talk to him to make him understand new words. E.g.: wave “goodbye”.

Pronunciation related:

  • Look at your newborn from a 30 cm distance, talking to him gently.
  • Place your face at the height of his face so that he can see your mouth clearly.
  • Articulate the words without exaggerating.
  • Imitate sounds, vocals and movements he makes.
  • Don’t repeat, instead positively rephrase his mistake as e.g.: “milk milk”, saying: “you want milk”.
  • Add a sound or syllable to his gesture.
  • Encourage his efforts in producing sounds by giving him time to answer you. Listen carefully to what he says, repeat and take a break, letting him react. This is the game of speaking in turn.
  • Talk simply but don’t use “baby talk”. Don’t deprive him of a good model! Use the real words with the right pronunciation. For example, don’t speak on the tip of your tongue if your usual speech doesn’t have this characteristic, don’t distort words like “ba ba” for bottle or “footie” for foot.
  • Make sounds imitating animals, these words offer a beautiful sound variety: b a a a of the sheep, woof woof_____ of the dog, Ho Ho Ho Ho of Santa Claus, Ha Ha Ha Ha for a big laugh, meow____ of the cat, moo_____ of the cow, rooaaarr of a car driving fast. Be creative and have fun!

Purpose related:

  • Talk to your baby often to stimulate him communicating verbally.
  • Sing simple nursery rhymes with gestures. Repeat several times, slow down before a word baby knows and give him time to react before pronouncing the word. He’ll want to try it!
  • Encourage him to imitate you.
  • Play the cuckoo game.

Sentence structure related (subject, verb, complement):

  • Speak to your baby using short, but correct sentences with an emphasis on intonation. Avoid removing the essential little words, say “give the ball” and not “give ball”.
  • Stimulate language development by being one step ahead. If your baby uses one word at a time, suggest a 2-word template. For example, if he says: “gone”, you can add “daddy gone”, if he says “dog”, suggest “dog out”. A 3-word sequence will quickly follow. Then, the child will pronounce sentences that contain the 3 main components: subject, verb and complement. Obviously, this will happen beyond the age of 24 months. If this doesn’t occur naturally, it will be important to consult a speech-therapist to investigate your child’s language development.

For further information, please watch the video broadcast live with speech therapist Johanne Bédard on Orthophony: Stimulate language up to one-year-old.

Marie Fortier

The baby expert

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