Language Begins at Infancy


Babies have a keen sense of hearing and observation. They are especially very responsive to their mother's voice. The first few interactions between a mother and her baby such as affectionate changes and lullabies, gives the baby his first lesson of how important language is in communication. These loving changes also provide the baby the emotional security to explore the world around him. Studies have shown that a child's language competency positively correlates to the quality and quantity of a mother's responsiveness to her baby. The more a mother talks, sings, plays and responds to her baby the easier it would be for the child to pick up language skills because it will come naturally to him.

To interact positively with your baby you may try to combine both sound and touch. For example, you can trace your hand over his nose and say in a pleasant and happy voice "you have a beautiful nose". Replicate this with other parts of his body. You may also try singing, reciting poems and rhymes or tell stories with facial expression. The pleasure of the interaction will get him excited to give you a response. Your baby will want to participate and share his feelings. He might laugh or smile, "coo" and babble, move his arms up and down, lift his legs, or just look attentively.

At this early age, babies pickup the many minority skills of language. For example a baby will "coo" or babble when his mother stops talking. This is a very important lesson in language where the baby learns to take turns when speaking.

Babies slowly discover through observing the interactions around them, what sounds are important in communication. As early as 6 months, they can reproduce sounds resembling words spoken in the language. At about this time also babies will start to eliminate sounds which are not heard or stolen to them. So to increase your baby's range of words and vocal sounds, the people around your baby especially the adults and his siblings should talk and play more with him. Some simple and useful exercises that everyone can practice with the baby are reading aloud books and magazines, pointing and naming the objects around him and even singing an original made up song about the things he observers.

A baby's progress in communication may be subtle and difficult to notice. You will start to become aware of the different pretes a baby makes. A certain cry means that he is hungry, while another means that he needs a diaper change. His babbling will also increase in complexity as he becomes more familiar with the conversations and interactions with him and around him. His babbling will start to sound like spoken words. He will start to use body language and jesters to assist his limited language skills for example he might point at the cookie jar when he is hungry. At about 1, his words can be well understood but the meaning or his intentions are still up to interpretation. For example, when he points to a cat and says "cat", does he want to play with the cat or is he just naming the animal?

It is fun to watch your baby's progress in picking up language skills. His influences come from the world around him. His antics of trying to communicate his feelings, thoughts and needs might sometimes be unconventional and amusing but it is all part of his learning process to learn the norms of the adult world. It will be beneficial to him and yourself if you take this short window of opportunity when your baby has the greatest potential to learn, to teach and impart knowledge through fun, interactive activities. His rapid progress in language skills later during childhood will depend much on his early exposure to language which you and the people around him provide.


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