Mum, dads and carers can start encouraging speech and language from the very moment they welcome their baby into this world. Not only does talking and singing to your baby create a strong bond and sense of attachment, but it sets the foundation for recognising various voices, tones, and emotions.
Developing healthy brains
To promote healthy brain development, children need time and attention from someone who enjoys spending time with them. These positive, nurturing interactions are known as ‘serve and return’,
In other words, when an infant or young child babbles, gestures, or cries, and an adult responds appropriately with eye contact, words, or a hug, connections are built in a child’s brain that support the development of communication and social skills.
Talk, talk, talk
Although it may feel a little strange communicating with someone that cannot communicate in the same way, babies will respond with eye contact, facial expressions, and eventually sounds.
Here are some tips to encourage speech:
- imitate - if they are making noises (babbling), making another sound in play, or even banging a spoon, you can do that too. imitating children’s sounds, words, and actions shows them that they’re being heard and that you approve of what they’re doing or saying.
- interpret – if they are pointing to their sippy cup your child is telling you that they want a drink. Take this to the next level by interpreting what they are trying to say. Respond with, “Water! You want water!”
- expanding – if your child says “blue car,” you can expand on that by saying, “Yes, a big blue car.” Or if they say “ball,” you can expand by saying “Yes, a big, red, shiny, ball.”
Read, read, read
Reading aloud is one of the simplest and most important activities you can do with your new baby. Newborns are calmed by the rhythmic sounds of lullabies and nursery rhymes and, as your baby grows, they will delight in turning the pages of books and looking at the pictures.
Regular reading also:
- increases vocabulary, curiosity and memory
- creates positive associations with books and reading
- builds listening skills
- improves academic achievement at school
- helps babies bond with parents and carers
Baby bounce and rhyme time sessions
Come along to free weekly rhyme time and baby bounce sessions that are held in libraries across Hammersmith and Fulham.
Think your child may have a speech or language problem?
Visit the Talking Points website for talking milestones from birth to age three. This will give you a rough idea if your child’s language development is progressing as it should.
If you're still worried about your child's speech or language development, talk to your GP or a health visitor. And one of our Family Support team can also help and, if necessary, they will refer your child to your local speech and language therapy department.
If you prefer, you can refer your child to a speech and language therapist yourself. To find a speech and language therapist near you, or for more information about helping your child to talk, visit the Talking Point website.