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Reading & Language

Baby Language Development Milestones

Baby lying on blanket outdoorsLanguage Development Begins at Birth

From the moment she is born, your baby is learning how to communicate. She progresses from simply crying and cooing, to speaking in phrases, and eventually to making short sentences as she moves into toddlerhood. As your child’s first teacher, you can help your baby develop solid language skills through talking, singing, playing, and reading together. Games and activities that teach babies how to understand and use language are an easy, natural way of building a loving and lasting connection with your child.

Although your baby is years away from becoming a reader, he starts to develop the skills necessary for reading and writing at birth. While he won’t be doing this for quite some time, you can begin now to help him develop a love of language and books. He will start by listening and making sounds and words. These skills lead to language development and literacy. Communication through play is the key to developing both a loving relationship and a budding reader. Talking about things that interest your baby, saying nursery rhymes, playing “peek-a-boo” and other games, and reading board books are all simple but important ways to begin. Below are more ideas to encourage your baby to grow up to love reading and writing.

How to Help Babies Learn Language

  • Talk to your baby about his world. Babies respond best to adults who make eye contact with them, touch them, and talk in a lively way about hte world around them. When you talk with your baby, you teach him new words while showing him the rhythms and patterns of language.
  • Talk back when your baby talks to you. When you take turns talking with your baby, you encourage her to speak more. Even if she is not yet speaking words you can still take turns by listening to the sounds she makes, making the same noise, and letting her talk back.
  • Ask your baby to point to the pictures. When you ask your baby to point to pictures in books, you help him make a connection between the word and a familiar object. You are also teaching him that books contain information that interests him and can be a source of delight.
  • Play games to teach your baby words. Babies love to connect with parents through playing simple games. When you play “Where’s your nose?” or sing songs with finger plays like “The Wheels on the Bus,” you actually teach your baby new words and help her practice speaking.
  • Talk to your baby about her scribbles. Offer older babies paper and crayons. They’ll scribble at first, but with practice, their work will look more like writng. Talk with them about their writing to help them understand that writing represents objects and ideas.

    Next: Learn more about how babies listen.

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