Your baby is born ready to acquire language. We say acquire rather than learn because language development is different from other types of knowledge learning (e.g. math, music). We don’t need to teach babies language, just expose them to it!
Don’t stress! At this stage, nothing you do to encourage your child’s language is wrong. The only guideline is the more the better 🙂
Here are a few simple activities to try if you are looking for some direction.
Have a conversation
It might seem a bit silly to have a conversation with someone who can’t talk back, but one of the earliest things you can do is teach your baby that the sounds they make and that you make can be used for communicating.
This conversational turn-taking is important to language development and language use and is a well-studied area of language science. Some ways to do this are:
Coo and response: When your baby coos to you, respond back to them in the same way.
Babble back: When Baby babbles language sounds to you, babble back the same sound. Or, respond with the word you believe corresponds to their babble.
A classic game of peek-a-boo: Hand games, finger games, peek-a-boo all teach baby language turn-taking.
Talk to your baby….all the time!
Talk to your baby as much as possible. About literally anything! Describe what’s around you, narrate your activities, talk about the weather…it doesn’t matter. Try to use names frequently–your baby’s name, names of family members, your pets too!
Here are a few things to try to broaden the topics of your chats:
Engage your baby’s body in language to active kinesthetic learning: Try touching your baby’s toes, knees, hands… and saying their names. Or, show your baby new objects and say their names, allowing your baby to handle the new objects as you do.
Expose Baby to different kinds of speech–meaning different vocabulary, and different rhythmic patterns. Try things like: Tell a story, recite nursery rhymes and poems, sing songs, speak with others around your baby, and read to your baby on a daily basis.
As always, have fun! Language is all about being social, so soak in some bonding time with your baby!