[6 months on]

The first time a child points or says a word (or signs one), what parent doesn’t get a flutter in their heart from the excitement that their child has something to say?  Have you ever thought about how a baby learns to communicate?

Whilst early communication such as smiling, pushing food away and waving are all signs of language development, think about how much attention your child gets when they communicate through a formal means (as mentioned above, pointing, talking, signing).  This attention from (usually) an adult, helps to develop their language further by:

  • the adult confirming their communication attempt is what they should be doing
  • giving the baby positive attention (what baby wouldn’t want that?)
  •  the adult repeating their attempt ( for example, pointing to the item or saying the word again)

These all encourage the baby to try it again!  So, the more the baby communicates TO others, the more they get attention and interaction.  And this interaction develops their language further, which gives them more opportunities to receive further attention and interaction from both familiar and unfamiliar adults.  The snowball effect!!!

So whilst we can sit back and wait for the baby to develop language by picking it up themselves, there are two things to remember!

  1. Learning a new language is MUCH easier when someone is pointing out the words for you, instead of having to work it out yourself.  See post ‘Getting thrown into a new language is not easy‘  
  2. Time is neural pathways – that is, the sooner your child gets communicating, the more neural pathways they will develop in their brain for communicating to others/getting information from others and the more their learning is able to develop, again the snowball effect.

AND, language brings so many benefits, to name a few:

  • being able to distract your child from tantrums or just rolling over on the change table more easily (hey, look! bird! – as opposed to nothing around that your child understands the words for)
  • entertaining them more easily (waiting in line – ‘next, go swimming, then home, then daddy home – as opposed to wrestling a bored baby)
  • teaching them about new concepts more easily (having defined ‘potty’, ‘nappy’, ‘undies’, ‘wee’ and ‘poo’, you can then talk about toilet training to your little one well before they start – ‘soon Jill go potty..no nappy… Jill use undies…Jill do poo in potty…Jill do wee in potty!!‘)

As soon as your child starts taking notice of people or things around the house, usually around six months (but give or take a bit), you can start helping to develop their language!  It is particularly good to help those babies that aren’t so communicative, in order for them to experience the snowball effect too.

** Stay tuned for an upcoming list of the first words/concepts that are ideal to point out to your baby**