1. Make speech and language learning a priority from Day One! Many of the components determining language development are in progress at Birth! Which means you can not get started too early. Remember that just because your infant can't speak does not mean that he/she doesn't begin to understand the fundamentals of language.
2. Hearing is Critical to Normal Language Development. It has now been proposed that all newborns be screened for hearing at birth. Even if your child's hearing appears normal at birth - ear infections and allergies can easily compromise hearing in the first few years of life. Despite claims made by some physicians - it is sometimes difficult to spot fluid in the ear by looking into a child's ear. Allergies can congest the inner ear without telltale signs of redness. If you suspect hearing problems, a visit to an audiologist is highly recommended. Untreated hearing loss often leads to language delays, but fortunately it is usually treatable.
3. Receptive (understood) Language almost always exceeds Expressive (spoken) Language. This means that many babies are actually a few steps ahead of where their parents believe they are, linguistically speaking. Be a good observer of your child and you'll have a better feel for his or her level of language learning. Your baby will probably begin to understand that specific words correspond to specific objects between 4 and 7 months of age.
4. Your Interactions with Your Child are the Most Important Components of Language Development. Begin speaking to your child early, and converse with your child often. Your positive and loving interactions are critical to your baby's social, emotional and intellectual development.
5. Respond to Your Baby's attempts at Communication. Encourage your child's vocalizations. You can play an early game of imitation with soft vowel sounds with your baby. Encourage your baby to make vowel-like and consonant-vowel sounds such as "ma," "da," and "ba." Reinforce attempts at communication by maintaining eye contact, responding with speech, and imitating your baby's vocalizations. Speak to your infant as you go about your everyday routine.
6. Use Verbal Labeling with Your Baby. Verbal labeling means pointing out and naming objects for your child. You can use books to do this, and you can do this as you walk around with your child. Point to and name objects for your child. This is a very important component of language learning for your child and can be an incredibly effective way to teach new words. For example if you see a dog say something like " Look… A Dog. That's a big dog" as you point to the dog. The Baby BumbleBee Vocabulary Builder videos utilize verbal labeling to enhance language development. Click here to learn more about the Bee Smart Baby, Vocabulary Build...
7. Play Interactive Games with Your Child. Teach your baby to imitate you as you clap, throw kisses, Wave Bye Bye etc. Play hand and finger games such as pat-a-cake, peek-a-boo, and the itsy-bitsy-spider. Hide objects from your baby and have her find them.
8. Talk to Your Baby. Talk as you bathe, feed, carry, and dress your baby. Talk about what you are doing and about the people, place and things around you. Identify colors for your baby. Count things with your baby. Identify animal sounds for your baby. Many babies can "moo" before they speak!