Teaching Your Baby to Talk
Studies have shown that babies in quiet households are delayed in learning to talk (and also to read)! I don’t know about you, but when I am alone I rarely think about saying anything out loud. When baby number one came, that didn’t change. So I knew I needed to develop habits to keep myself talking to Little Fox. Here are a list of tips and tricks which kept me speaking and Little Fox listening to the sounds which are preparing her for reading and speaking.
I love to read, and the easiest way to have time to read is by reading to Little Fox. She is entertained by the sounds and page turning, and I’m doing one of the things I love best! The very first book I read aloud to her was The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to a Classical Education at home (Read my review of the book here). It doesn’t matter what you’re reading, what you’re doing is teaching your child the sounds of words and how they fit together.
2. Diaper Changes (Sensory Words)
We like to make diaper changes a happy occasion. Little Fox gets to see her feet and stretch her legs, and she is introduced to various textile experiences. I always talk to her about what she is experiencing. “This is a bum wipe. It is cold and wet. I am using it to clean up your poo.” “This is a dry diaper. I am unfolding the sticky part and clasping it to the front.” Narrate other activities you do with your baby as well. Baths are another great activity for verbalizing sensory experiences.
3. Listen to Music and Audiobooks
You can record yourself reading so that you baby can listen to you talk while you’re working, or play other audiobooks and music. When Little Fox and I do our floor time, we’ve listened to audiobooks such as The Lord of the Rings and even some of The Brothers Karamasov. We also talk about some of our games. Around three months we started playing “Apart, Together” where I take her left hand and right leg, or right hand and left leg, and bring them together over her belly. Sometimes I simply say “apart” or “together,” and other times I say “right hand and left foot.”
Having music playing in the background of our day both reminds me to keep talking, and fills the silence with other sounds that are still helping Little Fox learn.
Babies learn through repetition. Doing a word exploration activity can help you practice that repetition. Pick a colour, shape, or item which is common in your household. Then, while holding your baby, go around your house pointing out different objects which fit that day’s chosen word. For example, on a day I choose green, I tell Little Fox “This is a green blanket, this is a green lego, this is a green basket,” and so on. This is also a great activity to do when your baby wants to held and you can’t think of anything else to do. This activity can be adapted for counting objects to teach numbers as well.
5. Growing Baby’s Vocabulary with the Plant Acronym
Here is an acronym you can use to remind yourself how your baby learns about language.
PLANT “growing your baby’s communication skills”
P – Play (narrate your activities during the day: “Here is your lego box, let’s take out the blue pieces…”)
L – Listen (when baby babbles don’t interrupt. Reply to the sounds and let your baby learn to continue a conversation)
A – Always (during the day make sure your baby is surrounded by sounds. Music, audio books, and recordings of your voice are all good options)
N – Novels (read big books with various words for your baby to hear new sound combinations)
T – Textiles (describe what baby feels as soft, rough, dry, wet, cold, warm, etc.)
What activities do you use to teach language skills to your children? Share in the comments! Check out our other baby articles!