Written by: Shani Fowler
I remember bringing my baby home from hospital in total awe. Gazing into his cot, I could not imagine a few years down the line having an actual conversation with him and a couple more years having arguments with him – arguments where he actually (quite successfully) gets his valid points across – much to my exasperation sometimes!! You wonder how you got here! You can almost break with impatience waiting to hear that immortal first word… “Daddy” (the cheek of them) and then you feel like you have lift off! Helping and encouraging your child develop their speech is important. Let’s have a look at just how we can encourage them.
From their very earliest days, always talk to your child when you are with them. Tell them what you are doing. “I am changing your nappy now”, “getting your milk for you”. Pull a few funny faces to keep them interested. Repeat the same words and sentences over and over. The more chatter your child hears from you the more opportunity they have for getting the noises and making an attempt at joining in.
On the move
When you are out and about, going to the shops or going to the park, point to the things you see, dog, cat, boy, girl, trees! As time goes by you can elaborate big black dog, long green grass – Make sure they know what you are pointing at though!
Pictures in books
Look at their baby books with them and point to the pictures and say the wor; car, bus or tree and always use little words to start with (obviously these are easier to get going with). Think we can leave “discombobulated” for a few years down the line or that’s exactly what they will be!
Little and often
Babies and infants have a limited concentration span, so to hold their interest, keep the sentences short and maybe ask them questions that they might like the answer to such as “do you want milk?” “Are you ready for dinner?” Short bursts but often.
Try to prevent distraction
Remember their name
Another great tip is to use your child’s name at the beginning of your sentence this should get them used to their name and grab their attention from the outset.
Don’t try to get them talking whilst they are munching away on a biscuit and remove obstacles that can interfere with them talking such as a dummy or a sucked thumb. It is hard to get pronunciation when they have something occupying their mouth!
Don’t expect perfection
Be prepared for a few words they are unable to get their tongue around. Often children find rolling their r’s quite difficult and will say Wocket and Wabbit – don’t say no to them, this could be discouraging tell them “good” and repeat the word with the correct pronunciation Rocket and Rabbit!
Importantly you must remember that children develop their speech at their own rate so try not to compare your child’s speech with another child’s speech. Some are naturally quicker talkers than others. If you do have genuine concerns speak to your GP or Health Visitor who can either reassure you or refer your child for extra help.
Once they get going with their speech it just seems to snowball. One minute they seem to be saying the single word such as “more” or “juice” and the next they appear to be able to make reasoned arguments with you. It is wonderful to watch and be able to help with their progress, seeing they are beginning to make their own way in the world.