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Building your baby’s language skills (Birth to 12 months)

​Your baby co​mmunicates.

Babies send messages by moving, making sounds, looking at people and things around them, and making facial expressions. Watch carefully to see how your baby is communicating. Respond to them by interpreting their message and acting on it.

Encourage babbling. Have conversations with your baby.

As young as 2 to 3 months, babies begin to make cooing sounds. As babies get older, they start repeating sounds and syllables (bababa, dadadada, badabada, etc.). This is called babbling. Respond to your baby’s cooing and babbling by looking at them, smiling, and imitating their cooing and babbling. Babbling is an important building block in the development of early words.

Talk to your baby.

Talk about what you and baby are doing, and about what you both hear, see, like, don’t like, and so on. Adding comments to everyday routines helps your baby begin to understand words and ideas.

It is never too early to start reading to your baby.

Your baby likes to hear your voice. Read to them in a calm, soothing manner. Choose books that are colourful and safe for babies to touch, hold, and chew (cloth, plastic, or heavy cardboard). Let your baby hold the book and play with it. Choose books with big colourful pictures. Point to the pictures and name them.

Sing songs or tell nursery rhymes.

Your baby loves to hear you sing. Songs and nursery rhymes are great ways to interact and introduce language because many of the words and phrases are repeated. Choose songs and nursery rhymes with actions that you and your baby can do together such as: “Peek-a-Boo”, “So Big”, “Pat-a-Cake”, “Row, Row, Row your Boat”, or “All Around The Garden”.

Talk to a speech-language pathologist if you have any concerns.

Birth to 5 years of age is an important time for the development of speech, language, and hearing. Strong speech, language, and hearing skills are important for later learning and school success. Acting on concerns early is important.

Where to go get help

For more information about how speech-language pathologists and audiologists can help, contact:

  • Your doctor, public health nurse, or other health provider
  • Your local health centre
  • Visit the Talk Box - A parent guide to creating language rich environments​

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