From day one babies are trying to communicate. They are naturally drawn to faces and will often try to copy your facial expressions and noises. Playing and interacting with your baby, singing songs and talking to them from birth all help to support your child’s development.
Make the most out of your everyday interactions with your baby by trying out some of the tips below.
Talk to your baby when you’re getting them dressed in the mornings. Use simple language to describe what you are doing, e.g. “socks on…. one…two!” Pulling faces, singing songs and making noises are other ways to make a routine task an opportunity to help your baby’s development and they make it much more fun.
Try to be at your baby’s eye level when playing with them. This may mean sitting or lying on the floor in order to be face to face with them. It’s much easier this way to join in with their play and for them to see, hear and interact with you. You don’t always need physical toys, babies love peekaboo and tickle games as well as action songs and rhymes. Turn the TV and radio off whilst playing to help them focus all of their attention on you and playing. It’s also a good idea to silence mobile devices so you can give them your undivided attention. For more information on technology and language development, listen to our Podcast
in our members area.
Meal and feed times
Talk to and sing to your baby during feed times. These happen so many times during the day they can be easy opportunities to communicate and interact with your baby. If your baby is eating solid foods, talk to them about the food as you give it to them, it’s ok to talk to them whilst they are eating and using simple language such as single words and short phrases makes it easier for them to associate spoken words with objects (e.g. “banana! yumm”, “more banana”, “all gone”).
Sing songs, play tickle or pull faces whilst you’re changing your baby. You’re already face to face so it’s a real opportune moment and a good distraction from the task in hand!
Out and about
Babies love to be facing you if possible in their buggy or pram, but if you have a forward facing pushchair that’s fine too. Talk to them about what you can see and if you are facing them then you can make faces and copy each other’s noises. It’s easier to share your child’s enjoyment and attention if they are facing you and to see what they are interested in.
Sing songs about what you are doing (e.g. “this is the way we wash your toes, wash your toes….”) and play with them and their bath toys. Most children love water play so make this into a fun activity rather than just a functional tasks. Bath time is an opportunity to offer different types of words as well such as action words (“splash”, “wash”, “dunk”, “dry” etc).
Every child benefits from having a bedtime routine, the earlier you start this the earlier they will get used to it. Try to avoid any exposure to technology within a few hours of bedtime to allow your baby’s brain to calm. TV, videos and mobile devices stimulate the brain and will make it harder for them to nod off to sleep (listen to our Podcast
on technology in our members area). A bedtime lullaby or a bed time story can help to soothe your little one as well as being an opportunity to help them to develop. Show them books and talk about the pictures you see, you don’t have to read them the whole story for them to benefit. Simply pointing things out and showing them the pictures is an opportunity for them to learn. When they are old enough they might want to have a go at turning the pages.
We love these videos by The Communication Trust which beautifully illustrate some of the points above:
Through the Eyes of a Child 0-6 months
Through the Eyes of a Child 6-12 months
Even though babies are very young and we wouldn’t expect them to be using words until closer to a year old, it’s important we give them the best start in life. Communication skills are fundamental to wellbeing, education and opportunities in life.
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