Tips for Building Babies’ Language
- Talk to babies – even if you think they are too young to understand.
- Use high-pitched “baby talk” to get a baby’s attention.
- Tell a baby what you are doing – or are about to do.
- Respond to the baby’s sounds, expressions, and attempts to engage you.
- See how long you can keep a “conversation” going – with the baby contributing smiles, coos, babbles, facial expressions, and movements, while you add the words.
- Tell your baby how you feel.
- Talk about what the baby is doing — or might be seeing, wanting, or feeling.
- Imitate the baby’s sounds. Change them a bit – and see if the baby will imitate you.
- Talk back-and-forth, play games, and name body parts when you change a baby. Talk an older baby through the process, and let him “help” you by picking up his arms or legs, pulling to sit up, or holding a piece of clothing.
- Use words as you show the baby how to do something new.
- Play peek-a-boo.
- Sing about what the baby is doing or what is going to happen.
- Address the baby by name. Use the baby’s name in a nursery rhyme or game.
- Play a knee-bouncing game like Hico Hico Cabellito, Trot, Trot, to Boston, or Pop Goes the Weasel. See if the baby can anticipate the fun part. How does she tell you that she wants to do it again, or has had enough?
- Play back and forth games with a toy or a ball. Put words or songs to your play.
- Get on a baby’s wavelength – then stretch. Imitate her actions – then try something just a little different to see if she will copy you. If she’s excited, share her enthusiasm. If she seems upset, use a calming voice and touch as you put her feelings into words.
Sharing Books with Babies
- It’s never to early to read to a baby!
- Young babies love to cuddle close and hear your voice. Choose books you like, with upbeat or gentle, soothing rhythms. Or read a grown-up or older child book aloud in an engaging tone of voice.
- Babies love to look at pictures of faces — especially baby faces! Point out details as you talk about the pictures or read the words on the pages.
- Read books to babies that tell them how much you love them.
- Read books in your home language.
- You don’t need to read all the words — or even any of them. Make up your own words.
- Read just enough to hold the baby’s interest. Follow his lead about when to stop and when to start again.
- Show older babies books with pictures of familiar objects. Name the objects as you point to them. Can they baby point to objects you name?
- Choose books with pictures of animals, vehicles, and other things that make noises. Can the baby make the sounds?
- Let the baby hold the book and try to turn the pages.
- Choose sturdy books that give babies things to do — like looking in mirrors, patting a baby animal, peeking through a hole, finding an animal who is hiding, or saying “night, night” to the baby.