Your little one is undoubtedly the most special thing in your entire life, so why not learn a little more about just what they need from you? As well as feedings, diaper changes, and lots of cuddles, they also need plenty of mental stimulation to aid their development.
As a new parent, you may not know about all the various things your baby is trying to do, but it’s never too late to learn. Take a look at the following tips from the pros, and you’ll have everything you need to give your baby the best possible start in life.
Use real words even when your little one isn’t.
The main mistake many parents make is to start talking like a baby. It might be cute, and they’ll probably start repeating what is said, but it’s not the optimum thing to do from a developmental point of view.
Your baby will learn most of their language skills by copying what you do. If you only ever talk to them directly using baby language, then that only leaves them with the grownup conversations they overhear to mimic.
Don’t rush story time. Take your time and talk about the pictures and characters.
It’s so easy to race through a book and tick it off your list because you’re tired, so why not do it earlier in the evening? Taking the time to create different voices, build suspense, and talking about the amazing pictures are three amazing ways to boost your baby’s development.
Here are three ways to ensure you always have plenty of time for a good story:
- Ask your partner to cook while you read to the little one.
- Have morning and afternoon story times on the weekends when you’re free from work.
- Make it a natural part of the bedtime routine that follows straight on from feeding and bath time.
Organize play dates with cousins and children of a similar age.
Language development milestones are something that every parent should be aware of. They’ll help identify areas in which your little one is excelling, and those where they might require some extra help. A great way to see how your child is doing is to have plenty of play dates.
Don’t get too carried away with the comparisons though, because every child will progress at different rates. Just enjoy seeing your little one making friends and starting to socialize with peers. It’s one of the true joys of parenthood.
Link words together to make 2- and 3-word sentences.
When your toddler starts saying a word, try linking a few more words onto it to create a simple sentence. It doesn’t have to be grammatically correct at this point. Pick something as simple as your partner leaving the house to go shopping. If your baby says ‘Mommy,’ you can repeat back ‘Mommy is shopping’ and see how they react.
Recognize the nonverbal communication that is going on.
Babies understand dozens more words and concepts than they can articulate. This means that if you want to really know what they are trying to say, you need to pay close attention to what they are doing with their hands.
Find the word they are looking for, and then combine it with the word they are saying. Again, it doesn’t have to be a grammatical masterpiece. It just needs to give them a nudge in the right direction so they can continue developing so well.
Singing is a fun way to build language skills that can involve the whole family.
The great thing about singing is that it allows your baby to hear a whole host of different sounds, and learn how to pick out the words from amongst them all. You can even make it a game where you each sing along to your own favorite parts of the song.
“I’m tasked with providing professional paper writing services in my day job, and then I’m a mom for the evening when I get home. It can be a bit of balancing act, but I never stop thinking of ways I can help my little one develop. For us it’s all about games that get her moving her lips and making new sounds”— Lisa Thomas, professional writer and loving new mom
Agree with them when you know what they mean – don’t instantly correct them.
Jumping in and correcting every little mistake that your baby makes is a surefire way to knock their confidence and make the developmental process less fun for them. Rest assured they will learn and improve in time, and remind yourself how you would feel if you were constantly being corrected when doing something totally new to you.
Enjoy the experience, smile as you see them change week by week, month by month, and just be there for them. That’s the greatest gift a parent can give to their pride and joy.
Talk about the things that interest them.
Babies can suddenly become transfixed when you least expect it. If you catch them staring in awe at something you wouldn’t bat an eyelid at, stop what you are doing and talk about it with them.
Stick to your normal voice (moving away from baby language remember) and tell them in three to five words what they are looking at. Over time they will associate the sounds you’re making with what they’re looking at, and before you know it they will constantly be describing things to you.
Add a lot of inflection to your voice.
Babies also learn the meaning of the different inflections that we use every time we open our mouths. To make it nice and easy for them to learn how to do it, make your inflections very pronounced and incredibly clear. Don’t go over the top with it, otherwise you’ll just confuse things, but make sure they are aware you’re changing the pitch of your voice. That way your baby will soon be able to differentiate the various ways you’re saying the same word.
Daniela McVicker is a freelance writer, blogger, editor at StudyClerk.com and contributor to Top Writers Review. She graduated from Durham University and has an MA in psychological science. Her passion is traveling and finding ways to enrich students’ learning experiences.