Infants and toddlers learn to communicate through their relationships. Read on to learn more about how you can help your child communicate.

How do I help my child communicate and talk? 

Infants and toddlers learn communication skills and language through the relationships they have with meaningful adults and persons in their lives.  Babies can even understand sounds and rhythms from the language they are exposed to while in the womb!  Here are some ways that you can help your child communicate.

  • Respond to coos, gestures, and body movements. When your baby smiles, looks at you, reaches for you, cries, grunts, turns away, or moves his body, these are signals that he needs something.  When you respond to his cues, your baby learns that his attempts to communicate will help him get his/her needs met.
  • Imitate your child’s cooing, babbling, and sounds.  When your baby/toddler makes sounds, you can imitate those sounds and facial expressions (If she says, “ooo ooo” or “ba ba ba,” repeat it back and smile.  This begins to teach about back and forth communication.
  • Talk directly to your baby and toddler.  Even though it might feel uncomfortable to talk to your child when he can’t talk back yet, this will help him/her understand her world and learn language.
    • Talk through routines – “Time to change your diaper!”
    • Name what you are doing together – “We are walking up the stairs, one, two, three, four!”
    • Narrate your child’s play – “That’s a blue car, vroom vroom!”
    • Notice what you see and hear – “I hear an airplane.  Can you find it in the sky?”
  • Read books.  When looking through books together, your baby/toddler will hear the words and tone of your voice, feel your excitement, look at the pictures, learn to turn pages, and begin to engage in back and forth interactions.
  • Sing songs.  Sing songs like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, or Row Row Row Your Boat.
  • Encourage play. Your child will learn new words through playing with various toys, objects, colors, textures, games, and activities.
  • Expand on child’s words or sentences.  If your child says one word (“truck,” “dog”), you can add other words like, “That is a big truck!” or “You are pretending to be a dog!”

You are your child’s first and very special teacher!  Delight in your interactions with her!

For more information about communication and language, please refer to these helpful websites, or talk with your pediatrician, child care provider, or home visitor.