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Tips to help infants communicate

by Lucy Windevoxhel

Everyone wants to help their children talk! The best way to do this is by using routines, those activities you have to do every day, some of them several times a day, to encourage verbal communication:

1. Mealtime: When you are feeding your baby, talk to him about what you are doing. For example, if you are going to feed her cereal, you can begin telling her while she waits on her high chair. "We are going to have cereal, Mmmmm, cereal". If she coos and smiles, coo and smile back at her. You can continue to add more language and repeat key words. "Is the cereal good?", "Want more cereal?", "Yummy","Is it warm?". Just choose the words or phrases that seem appropriate to the situation. After you say something, wait and look at your child, try to read what she is trying to say (e.g., a smile can mean-this cereal tastes good) and respond to her gestures, or sounds. Keep your language at a level appropriate for your child (e.g., if she does not have any words, then coo and smile back at her, and talk to her using one or two words, if she says one word utterances, then reply using two and three words, etc).

2. Story time: Infants are exploring the world through their senses. You want to provide your child with books they can mouth such as cloth books and sturdy board books. At this age books should be simple, having just one idea per page. If your baby is interested you can point to the pictures on the pages and name them. If your baby wants to put the book in his mouth, let him. If he loses interest verbalize that the activity is over (e.g., "bye bye book") and move on to another activity.

3. Changing diapers: Before changing your baby's diaper talk in simple terms about what you are going to do: "Pee-yew! Your diaper is dirty!" Or "Wow your diaper is SO WET! Let's change it". As you change her diaper make eye contact and talk about what you are doing. "Let's take this off" "Yuck..it's a stinky diaper.." , "Let's wipe your bottom". "Nice, now your are clean!", "Now a clean diaper!". Make sure to use lots of expression and make eye contact. Use your own words, these are just examples.

4. Bath time: Announce bath time before it starts. Talk about the clothing you remove as you remove it : "Shirt off!" Socks off!" Talk about the water, the soap, the bubbles, the body parts you are washing: "let's wash your feet, now your hands, now your hair". Again use lots of expression, smiles and have fun with your baby!

5. Peek-a-boo: Need I say more? Grab a blanket, or your hands, cover your face and play PEEK-A....BOO! Great routine game to enjoy time with baby. Not only will your baby be exploring the concept of object permanence, but you will be encouraging social interaction, eye-contact, anticipating an event and after playing the game numerous time if you say "peek..a" ... and then wait you may hear "Boo!" back at you.

Published in Language development Written by  Lucy Windevoxhel
Lucy Windevoxhel

Lucy Windevoxhel

M.S., CCC-SLP
Bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist

Originally from Venezuela Lucy has resided in the United States since 1993. While pursuing a graduate degree she received specialized training in working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She is a certified leader in the Hanen Programs: It Takes Two to Talk and Target Word, as well as The Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing (LiPS) program and Visualizing/Verbalizing. In addition she has specialized training in oral motor therapy through Talk Tools and Beckman Oral Motor Assessments and Interventions.

‘No dreamer is ever too small; no dream is ever too big’