Building Language in Infants

As I embark on the road to motherhood for the second time, I think about activities I incorporated into my everyday life and routines to help promote language development when my first son was just a baby.  

There are so many learning and educational tools out there today that it may seem that you need to buy every toy imaginable for your little one; but, early language skills are learned best through everyday moments you experience with your child and your everyday routines! It does not have to be a complicated toy. I often think back to when my first baby preferred playing with pots and pans and a spatula over the fancy toys we had purchased! 

What are some activities you could do with your infant to help promote your baby’s growing language skills?  These were always a few of my favorites in the first months with my son:

  • Copying baby’s sounds and encouraging baby to imitate you;
  • Singing songs! Many were classic nursery rhyme songs, but many were songs I made up about getting dressed in the morning, playing with favorite toys, buckling up in the car seat, etc.). Even if it feels silly and you do not feel like you can carry a tune, babies do not care! They simply love hearing your voice. Even my three-year-old still loves the silly song I made up about buckling up in the car seat; 
  • Adding actions to songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Pat-a-cake,” etc. – babies love to hear and learn and anticipate the movements that go along with the song;
  • Playing peek-a-boo, a simple game that helps prepare little ones for how to have a conversation later. You can hide behind objects or play with the baby moving back and forth in front of a mirror. This was one that brought endless giggles in our house;
  • BOOKS! Reading lots and lots of books! Reading is a great language tool to incorporate into your everyday routine. It helps your little one develop a love of reading and will help grow vocabulary. As a part of our daily routine, we read books before nap and bedtime and this is still a routine our first son loves at three years old. 
  • Be SILLY! When singing or reading, use different voices. Babies love when adults are silly even when we feel foolish. This can often make books/reading more fun.
  • Repetition! Babies learn better through repetition. If your baby is interested in a book or a song, give them as long as they need to look at the pictures, hear the story on repeat, or the song on repeat. Sometimes the same book or song may get old to us, but babies love hearing familiar things. 

In the end, what is most important about any activities you do with your baby if that you are both having fun!  Your baby can grow in his or her language development and you can still have a great time! Also remember it is ok to look SILLY! Your baby will love you regardless of making yourself look like a fool for those little laughs and giggles! 

Jillian Little

Speech/Language Pathologist