Communicating with Baby or Toddler – Developing Language Skills

Language skills are so very important to a child for an entire lifetime. There are several methods available to parents which help a child develop language and communication skills.

Help Your Child to Develop Language Skills

Almost everyone involved with a child’s life can contribute to that child’s development of language skills. Language skills are so important. They are important now and will be important for an entire lifetime of using language to communicate.

Many studies show that children have better grammar and larger vocabularies when they are talked to, conversed with, stimulated, and read to often during their infancy and early childhood.

What can you do to help a child develop language skills?

Sign Language: Teach your infant and toddler to sign simple words through American Sign Language.There is ample research to show that signing not only works for communicating before verbal communication is possible, it also increases verbal skills and vocabulary.

Talk: Talk, talk, and talk some more. Talk to your child from day one. Talk about any subject as the child’s day develops. For example, say to your child as he/she finishes breakfast, “You have finished eating your warm oatmeal and cool applesauce. Yummm, they both tasted good. Now you will take a bath and get dressed.” While you bathe your child say, “Mommy is going to pour warm water on your back. See, it feels good. Now we will dry off with a big soft towel and put on some cool lotion.” When you take a walk later in the day, keep up a running commentary on the sunshine, flowers, grass, birds, wind, etc. Keep that commentary going all day.

Books: Let your baby become a friend of books.Your baby is never too young to hear you read. Future reading success is at least partially determined by the amount of time parents spend reading with and to their child. You can start with picture books and add longer stories(“chapter books”) as your child gets older.

Collect Books: Build a collection of children’s books for your child. They don’t have to be new or expensive. Garage sales and “Friends of the Library” sales are great places to pick up books on the cheap.

Story Time: Have your own story time. Take your child to hear other story times. Story times at your library or bookstore help children appreciate reading and books.

Become a Story Teller: You have this incredible audience. Make up your own simple stories that fit your child’s interests and often include him/her as a character. Making up a story about the world around you is a good way to narrate a walk with your child. “Once upon a time, Kelly and Mommy were taking a walk when…” Encourage your child to tell you stories, too. Hearing a local story teller is great if one is available in your area.

Follow Child’s Leads: Follow your child’s lead. If you notice an interest in a particular picture or event in your world, keep talking about it. If she seems intrigued by animals, show her more animals and talk about them, too. If she keeps coming back to the dogs, show her different dogs and talk about their sizes, colors, furs, and noises such as barks, whines, or growls.

Music: Music helps, too. Play music for your child,even as an infant. They love music, clapping, different instruments/sounds and movement. Music teaches him the rhythm of language and helps her learn about her world. The Wiggles make great videos and CDs that “make” children sing, dance and wiggle along while learning about many subjects.

Repeat Her Sounds/Words: While your child is an infant, repeat her babbles back to her. As your child grows, don’t ever criticize your child’s speech. Instead, repeat his sentences or words back to him with the correct pronunciation or usage.

Praise His Speech Efforts: Give your child lots of praise for all efforts to communicate.

Experiences Stimulate Child: Different experiences stimulate children. Stimulation can be as simple as a daily walk or trips to different parks around town or a special trip to a farm, zoo, or children’s museum. Talk about everything you see, feel, or hear. This will help your child develop a love of learning and his language skills.

Is There Hearing Loss? Make certain your child can hear. Treat ear infections thoroughly as they put your child at risk for hearing loss and possible language delays. If your pediatrician prescribes an antibiotic as treatment, dispense it to your child as directed and for the full time. When she finishes the prescription, schedule a follow-up visit with your pediatrician to make certain the infection has cleared. Robert Cohen of the National Dairy Council advises parents to be aware that children who have many ear infections are usually helped or even cured by substituting soy products for products made from cow’s milk. However, be careful that the soy products you substitute don’t contain casein–a cow’s milk protein that contributes to ear infections.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, National Dairy Council, Michael Greger,MD.

Baby Sign Language

Don’t spend a fortune on books and videos for sign language products before you have experience. The truth is that sign language is not hard to learn for you or for your baby. I would only purchase two, possibly three, sign language items.

My recommendations for teaching your baby sign language:

1. Dr Joseph Garcia authored the classic in the sign language field: Sign With Your Baby.

Buy the video only or buy a kit which contains the video, a short and simple to understand book, plus a chart showing the signs.

The sign language video is a must for the section on teaching sign language and the last section which demonstrates American Sign Language words. I would buy the kit to get the accompanying sign language book unless you buy the CD Pick Me Up at the same time. That CD includes a workbook.One sign language book is probably enough although both of these sign language books have their positive and different attributes.

2. At the same time I would add the music CD Pick Me Up for the signing and singing as well as the excellent sign language workbook for parents. This fun, interactive experience for you and your baby is all it normally takes to rapidly add words to your American Sign Language vocabulary.

3. If at any time you or your babies are having problems learning sign language, purchase Baby See N Sign, Volume I. It presents American Sign Language words three different times: as a still picture, in slow motion, and at normal video speed.

Frankly, I believe the above three items are all the sign language products you need to own.

Why purchase any sign language items? Why not use the library for your sign language needs?

You probably need at least one sign language product on hand for reference. A CD of music to sign by teaches sign language daily. Plus your baby can watch a sign language video like Baby See N Sign to supplement your own signing.

Note: The opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the position ofCyberParent. They are not intended to take the place of advice of a health or other professional whose expertise you might need to seek.

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