Starting a new family can be a wonderful yet stressful experience. Newborns, and even older babies, can seem mysterious and taking care of them may be a little scary. Fortunately, babies are born with the skills and desire to tell parents what they need. In this blog, experienced moms (who happen to be experts) will help parents understand why babies behave the way they do and share tips to help parents cope with the ups and downs of this new and exciting time of life.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Learning to Talk Takes a Team Effort
It is amazing how quickly babies change. They grow so fast,
learn so much, and gain some control over their bodies so quickly during those first
few months. Before you know it, your baby is using words!Learning to talk becomes one of your baby’s
most important jobs as he becomes a toddler.We’ve shared how babies develop their ability to communicate starting
with basic cues and words during the first year that lead to a vocabulary explosion in the second year.
But did you know that you
play an important role in your baby’s progress in learning how to talk? Babies
don’t learn language on their own, they rely on the people who care for them to
help them know what words mean and how and when to use them. Here are some language
experts' “lessons learned” from the research on how babies learn to understand and use language.
Developmental scientists have found
that the most important factor influencing a child’s vocabulary is the
“language environment.” Babies learn the words that they hear around them (keep
that in mind when you stub your toe). Babies first learn the words they hear
most often – such as their own names, and words used for clothing items and household
objects.When your baby is able to point
to objects, you’ll find that your baby seems to want to play the “name game
“all day long. This is a very important process. Not only will your baby point
at things for you to name but your baby will look at your face to see how you
“feel” about the object.Your baby is
learning a lot more than words; your baby is learning about safety and
context and where things and people fit in the world.
Babies understand language
before they can use it.
For a long time, researchers
thought that understanding language occurred much later than it actually does
for most babies. That’s because scientists had to rely on tests that required
that babies demonstrate some use of language (like naming objects or following
directions). But, many babies didn’t do well on the tests because they were
still learning to make consistent sounds with their mouths and to control their
bodies. Newer tests show that babies can understand many words and even the
structure of language far before they can use words to communicate. That means
that for a while, you’ll have to play “translator” for your baby, figuring out
what she needs and communicating those needs back to her and to others.
Learning and using
language relies on multiple skills and different parts of babies’ brains.
The use of language (not just
words) takes a lot of brain power. Babies need to use their sensory, memory,
analytical, motor, and social skills all at once to communicate with the world.
That means that many parts of their brains are used when they are learning and
using words. You play a very special
role in this process.Your baby needs
you to be on “his team” to make it all happen.Let your baby explore, hear you talk, see your face, and watch your
emotional responses to objects and experiences. Make sure that your baby has
plenty of chances to see how you interact with other people in positive ways.
Support your baby’s efforts as he tries to communicate with you and others. Take
the time to see how your baby uses his whole body and brain to interact with
his world. It’s an exciting and fast paced process as your baby will double his
usable vocabulary between 18 and 21 months and again from 21 to 24 months. Go
Hollich G. Early Language. In:
Infant Development. 2nd Edition. Volume 1. Basic Research. JG
Bremner and TD Wachs (Eds.). Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.