Babies start communicating with us from the second they are born. Using a combination of sounds, facial expressions, and body movements, they let us know their needs entirely non-verbally. Their communication skills develop further when we respond to their simple method of ‘talking,’ and we can further this development through infant activities and play.
How Does My Baby Communicate?
The ‘infant stage’ of life is split into smaller stages of infant development, which can be characterized by different ways of communicating. It’s easy to assume that just because your baby can’t speak, they can’t understand or respond to language, but they have their own way of interpreting and interacting with the world around them!
At this age, your baby is all ears and eyes. They are watching you interact with different people and objects around you – and learning the entire time!
Some ways they will communicate their needs to you include:
- Crying in different ways depending on what they need
- Recognizing voices
- Turning towards or away from sounds
This is the beginning of your baby’s experimenting! Here they will start learning newer and more complex ways to interact and communicate with you.
You may see:
- Babbling (even if alone)
- Responding to the tone of your voice
- Mimicking frequent sounds
- Vocally expressing joy or unhappiness
- Noticing the sounds of toys
At this age you will notice your baby attempt to communicate vocally. Although bigger words and sentences are a way off, there is a definite comprehension of language that wasn’t there before. They will be gaining more verbal skills and abilities day by day.
You will see:
- Copying of sounds and gestures
- Pointing at people or things
- Greater understanding of basic words, like “hello” and “yes”
- Making ‘naming’ sounds, like “bababa” when referring to themselves
- Babbling with a wider range of vowels and consonants
Many babies begin to understand basic requests or commands at this age. They will also be experimenting with imitation of everything they are exposed to! This is also the age where you might consider enrolling your child in daycare, which will give them the chance to meet even more people to learn to talk to!
You can look out for:
- Following instructions, like “come here” or “put that down”
- Recognizing simple objects, like “bag” or “toy”
- Imitating sounds more frequently and accurately
- Saying simple words, like ‘uh-oh,” “mama,” and “dada”
- Experimenting with tone while babbling (it’ll sound more like proper speech)
It is rewarding to take note of each of these tiny milestones in your baby’s communication development. Being proud of small progress and letting your baby play with language will encourage them to keep exploring the verbal side of communication.
Keeping their little minds active and stimulated is essential for building language comprehension, understanding sentence structure, and learning how tone and body language can affect the meaning of different words. At Parkland Children’s Academy, we build language skills in the same way we approach anything—lots of exposure in as many fun and stimulating ways as possible!
Here are some activities you can do with your baby to get them communicating:
1. Tell Them What You Are Doing
One of the easiest ways to build language confidence and an understanding of sentence structure is to simply talk to your child about what you’re doing. When giving them a bath, for example, you can talk about how the warm water is nice to sit in, or how the bubbles that they are playing with were made by soap.
This will also help them become familiar with different adjectives – are the toys that you’re playing with soft or hard? Is the food you’re cooking hot or cold? By talking to your baby about whatever is going on around them, they will have a context for all the words they learn.
2. Skip The Baby Talk
A study by Stanford University showed that talking to your baby builds language proficiency, helps them grow a vocabulary, and improves their sentence structure when they begin speaking.
Speak to them in full sentences, use rich and descriptive words, and give them space to respond or mimic. When your baby starts saying words, finish their sentences for them. For example, if they say, “thank,” say “Thank you!” back to them.
3. Ask Questions
Once they’re a little older and babbling more frequently, you can ask your baby questions about what you are doing together. They don’t need to eloquently respond just yet, but by asking them questions and waiting for their gurgled respond you are teaching them how conversations work. You are also showing them that what they say is important to you, which helps them feel secure and loved.
4. Read Together
Reading with your child has been shown to have lasting effects on their language, literacy and reading skills – and the key word here is with. By involving them at a level they can manage, they will absorb more of what you say, and will find the reading experience more enjoyable.
When reading, let your baby point at the pictures and babble about what they see. Also ask their opinions about the story – again, they won’t respond with words just yet, but you are teaching them about comprehension.
5. Build A “Feelings” Vocabulary
One of the most important aspects of verbal communication is the ability to describe how or what you are feeling. By building a vocabulary filled with descriptive words for all types of feelings, your child will be able to articulate themselves instead of being overwhelmed with intense emotions.
Start with the simple feelings, like “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” or “tired.” Once you feel like your baby has a good idea of what those mean, expand the list with words like “bored,” “irritated,” or “peaceful.” The goal here is to expose your baby to as many feeling words as you can think of – even if they are too small to say them yet!
Learning Communication With Infant Activities At Daycare
Parkland Children’s Academy uses a structured, age-appropriate curriculum for our infant daycare which ensures your baby’s communication skills will grow daily.
Your child’s babbling is just as important to us as it is to you, and because we provide personal attention to each child, you can be sure it will be listened to. Contact as today at 954-688-5877 for a tour of our facility and see how fun communication can be!