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Early language development in babies

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Who doesn’t love to look at a baby and smile and talk softly to them? And what a treasure it is when the baby responds in kind! That is the very beginning of language development in young children.

Babies love to hear the familiar voices of their parents. When you talk or sing to your baby he or she often reacts with babbling or cooing. Pretty soon it becomes a “conversation” as you talk and your baby responds with a coo or babble or smile. It is a wonderful part of language development to be able to observe.

Here are a few ways to keep that language development with your child going and growing.

• Enlarge on what your child says. If your toddler says “Doggie,” you might say “Where did your doggie go?”

• Keep talking to your as you do even simple everyday tasks, like when you are doing the dishes, bathing your child, buying groceries. The more language your child hears, the more words he or she is exposed to.

• Don’t forget about reciting nursery rhymes, doing finger plays, games, and the classic action songs like “this little piggie went to market” or “patty cake” or "where is thumbkin?"

• When your child does an activity explain what he or she is doing—“I see you are brushing your dolly’s hair,” or “you are building with your blocks,” or “you are playing with your blue ball.”

• Read, read, read to your child everyday.

The more language your child hears, the more words he or she is exposed to and the more capable your child will be as a learner of language. Children who have a better grasp of language are more likely to be more able learners when they go to school.

However, if you have concerns about your child’s language development, contact your local Intermediate School District. They have speech pathologists on staff that can assess your child and check their language or developmental progress. You can also bring up your concerns with your child’s pediatrician.

The early years are crucial in the development of your child. Knowing what to expect about that development can support your job as a parent.