Why do baby’s communication skills matter?
The communication skills that babies learn in their first year set the stage for success in developing reading, writing, and social skills later in life. Parents can begin encouraging baby’s communication from the time they are born.
How does my baby communicate?
Babies communicate through their cries, coos, facial expressions, and body language long before they say their first words. From birth, babies begin to develop two sets of communication skills: receptive skills and expressive skills.
Receptive communication is the ability to receive and understand a message from another person. Babies demonstrate this skill by turning their head towards your voice and responding to simple directions.
Expressive communication is the ability to convey a message to another person through sounds, speech, signs, or writing. Crying, babbling, and using body language are examples of your baby’s early expressive skills.
For a detailed list of communication milestones in the first three years, see our milestones chart.
Common Questions On Language Development
How can I encourage my baby’s communication development?
You can encourage communication development by smiling, talking, playing, and reading with your baby. It will help them develop the communication skills needed to build meaningful relationships and succeed in school.
See our Baby Milestones Calendar for more ways to support your child’s communication development, including games and activities to encourage your child’s communication.
Is my baby on track with communication milestones?
While every child develops at their own pace, our milestone chart can serve as a general guide for what to expect in the first three years.
Tips for Encouraging Speech and Language Development
Use a high-pitched, sing-song voice. This helps get and keep your baby’s attention while you talk.
Play with sounds. Get silly while playing and make sounds that connect with what your child is doing.
Use facial expressions and gestures to communicate the meaning of words.
Describe your actions as you dress, feed, and bathe your child. Pairing the same words with routine activities is a great way to develop language.
Encourage two-way communication. When your child communicates with you using sounds, words, or gestures, be sure to respond and take turns in the “conversation”.
Read with your child. “Reading” can simply mean describing pictures without following the written words. Choose books with large, colorful pictures, and encourage your child to point to and name familiar objects.
Expand your child’s vocabulary by building on the words they already know. For example if your child says “dog” you could say “Yes, that’s a big dog!”
Reword your child’s phrases. If your child makes a speech or language error, respond with the phrase in the correct form. This helps them learn proper pronunciation and grammar. For example, if your child says “Doggy big” you can respond with “Yes, the doggy is big”.
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