When Baby Starts to Talk
- Encourage your baby's attempts, never making fun of a word said incorrectly as this can put him off from trying again. Instead, repeat the word in a matter-of-fact, non-judgmental way, this time saying it correctly.
- Read and sing together to improve words, language, and listening skills—and enjoy the special cuddling time this brings.
- Praise language achievement; even if your baby doesn't understand the actual words you're using, he'll respond to your tone of voice.
- Act as interpreter between your child and others whenever it is clear that you are needed for meaning to come across, otherwise let your child try for her own conversations.
- Avoid baby talk! Though it's cute when babies say "ga-ga-goo," it confuses them and may inhibit learning when adults use similar language. Helping kids master their mother tongue is particularly important if your family lives in a foreign country and their only exposure to English (or native language) takes place at home. Don't allow older kids to use "baby talk" with younger siblings in this case, because if your family doesn't use correct English at home, your children won't pick it up elsewhere.
- And finally, keep it simple. Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff, and Sandee E. Hathaway, BSN, in their book What to Expect the Toddler Years remind us, "Can you understand a movie spoken in French with just a year of highschool French under your belt? Remember, your toddler has had only one year of English."
Audible, distinct, clear speech will make it easier for your toddler to pick up the language and eventually find her way through the oceans of words she's swimming in.