Infant language development

From the moment a child enters this world he is on the receiving end of the information highway. An infant’s brain is “hungry” for information, taking in every word you say and how you say it. Although it may be several months before your child begins to form understandable words, this does not mean that she is not learning how to form those words from you.

From baby-talk to best friend to teacher, your child will hear every word that comes out of your mouth. Some of the most articulate young children have parents who have spoken to them fluently, articulately and intelligently from birth.

When you are gazing down at your little one with such wonderment and awe, rehearsing your lectures for when he gets older, telling her how beautiful she is, talking just to hear your own voice at times, and he looks at you in such a manner as to say, “I hear you. Tell me more. Is that so?” Don’t be so quick to laugh it off. Your child is listening, wondering what that amazing sound is.

The words that you speak so often are the basis for the coos and gurgles that your little one starts to be so fascinated with trying to get out. Watching, listening, imitating. Children become fascinated with the sound of their own voices. Oftentimes, the louder the better. To most it is just cute mumbling, that’s what babies do. Well, that is what babies do, but that is not in its entirety all that your child is doing. He is making sounds like those around him do. He is hearing the sound of his own voice. He is practicing for vocal control and understanding.

As the brain takes in information and he is able to control his vocals, those coos will turn into “mama” or “dada.” Your child will not be able to understand the meaning of most words just yet, but through repetitive vocals and visual learning he or she will put two and two together, so to speak. For example, when a baby is focusing on her feet and playing with her toes, cooing and gurgling and laughing, studies show that if you repeatedly point to them with her and tell her that those are her toes she will “practice” getting that word out with an understanding of what it means.

The first three years are the most important of this journey on the information highway. Children have a fascination and a hunger for the sound of words. The earlier you feed that hunger, the greater the gift you give them for a profound and successful future.