A child’s communication skills are critical to their ability to relate with others and ultimately their academic success. The development of speech is undoubtedly one of the more remarkable achievements of early childhood. By the age of five, a typically developing child has mastered the sounds and grammar of their language and have a vocabulary of thousands of words. Whether you have a normally developing baby or toddler or are concerned because your child is delayed in speaking, there are things you can do to encourage their development at home:
It is never too early to start! Introduce books to your baby as early as 6 months of age. Begin with simple picture books (one picture per page) and books with textures. Encourage your child to hold the book and turn the pages (provide assistance as needed). Use a variety of environmental sounds when naming and describing the pictures – animal sounds, colors, shapes, actions, and locations. The local library is a great resource for age appropriate books for your child. When you are there getting books, check out the available CDs for children. If you are offering books on a tablet, talk to your child as you would with a hard copy book. Continue to make sounds and describe pictures as you swipe through the pages.
Begin talking to your baby right after birth (some parents will talk to their baby before birth!). Talk to your child about what is happening at that moment to them, or talk while you are preparing to change a diaper, preparing a bath, or preparing a bottle. As your child grows, continue to talk about the events that fill your day – preparing for day care/work, trips to the store, riding in the car and changes to the day to day routine.
Family Meal Time
If possible, encourage everyone in the family to eat one meal together per day. Meal time supports a positive relationship with each other and encourages language development related to food. Meal time is also a great opportunity to talk about events that happened during the day or will happen in the near future.
Introduce music to your infant, some families prefer classical music, while others prefer country western and jazz. Music specifically geared toward all children can be found on You Tube and Pandora. Also, check out CDs from the local library when you go to get books for your child. And of course, just sing to your child. Create your own versions of familiar finger play songs and include gestures while you sing.
Monitor the amount of time your child is given screen time from the television, tablet, and phone. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends no screen time for children birth to 18 months of age, and for children 2 years to 5 years, the AAP recommends only 1 hour of screen time per day, with content being very important. Instead of offering your child a screen, engage your child in play or provide activities that encourage movement, language development and social interactions while you interact with your child.
Do you have concerns about your child’s speech development? We would love to help! Check our our infographic Speech Milestones to see what communication milestones might be expected at your child’s age. You may also call our office today at 574-376-2316 for a free developmental screening.