When my daughter Layla said her first word “mom” (after much coercing), I remember thinking, holy crap, this little thing is turning into an actual human being! I thought for sure that by the end of the week we’d be bantering back and forth about the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and certainly by the end of the month she would be reciting A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Instead, she unleashed a series of nonsensical babble sessions that only she could understand.
Before Layla was born, I watched children spout off the same encrypted jibber jabber, their mothers and fathers instantaneously responding as if they were speaking to you or I. I was amazed. I thought for sure that when I had children it would be the same, but 17 months in and I find myself bobbing my head up and down in “uh huh” response. But how can I encourage actual words?
The good news is, after a bit of quick research, I found that I was in fact following what I now call the three Rs of nuturing communication skills. They are:
When reading to your baby, she’ll follow the words you string together into sentences. She’ll laugh at your funny voices, and also start to recognize the pictures on the pages.
When your child strikes up a babble session, you can keep the conversation flowing by nodding and responding back. She’ll be much more talkative if she knows you’re interested.
3. Rambling on.
Just as your child puts in the effort to babble on, you too should ramble on. Talk about your day, describe what you’re doing and the things around you. I love this one because now with my daughter in tow, I’m not that weirdo talking to herself in the frozen food section.
If you’re worried your child might be behind in communicating, The Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services offers a few developmental milestones to mark the progress of young children as they learn to communicate.