As a first time parent, I was so worried about doing all the right things for my baby that I read and re-read books about parenting. I purchased the "must-have's" to make sure my baby was ready to learn and grow. Little did I know at the time, that "stuff" isn't necessarily what an infant needs to grow and learn. In graduate school we all learned the necessary tools to needed to communicate with an infant. Only two real items stood out: Time and YOU!!!! Your baby has been listening to your voice and your partner's voice for 9 months! They are uniquely attuned to hearing your voice. That's why they are calmer with you than a stranger. That's why you comfort them in times of distress. That is also why it is imperative that you talk to your baby A LOT!
Look at your child and make sure he/she is looking at your face when you talk to them. Research shows that your child learns by watching your mouth move. Use different inflections when speaking. Show them the range of your voice. Not sure what to say? Talk about the weather, what you're wearing, how you're cleaning the dishes. When you're shopping talk about what you're buying. Who cares what the lady next to you thinks about talking to your baby. They are learning!!!! They learn turn taking very early on. When your child stops nursing or sucking at the bottle, most parents will talk to their child and they child will begin sucking again. That's early turn taking folks and they are getting it! It takes very little to encourage speech and language development. You don't need expensive programs and TV/iPad games. You just need some time and your voice.
One last tip: Learn some basic sign language and model those signs early on. Some good ones to learn: "more", "no", "yes", "eat", "drink", "milk", "sit", "play", "sleep", "thank you". These early signs help decrease frustration when they are unable to verbally communicate. Learning signs will not interfere with verbal communication skills.
If you have questions about early communication or would like to ask questions, please contact Capital Speech Therapy for a free 30 minute consultation! We're looking forward to meeting you soon.