It’s never too early to promote language in my book! Research actually says the more you talk to your baby the higher their IQ will be. All the gurgling you are beginning to hear as well as the coos are the foundations of speech. Soon you will be taking turns with your child as if you’re having a real deal conversation. In order to promote this back and forth turn-taking, imitate whatever sound your child makes so they begin to understand the idea of “I say something” and “They say something back”. Some of the first sounds you will expect to hear are ahhh, ahhhgooo, ooo, o, etc.
You can then switch it up by you initiating new sounds and movements with your face to see if your baby imitates. Try using mirrors within your home as well (also featured in Week 2). You can model motions such as smacking your lips together or making a “surprised” face. You can also model bilabial sounds, which are sounds made with both lips such as /p/, /b/, and /m/. These are actually the easiest to produce since they are very visual. It’s always great to draw attention to your lips by pointing or even putting a few fingers on your mouth as you produce it. You can also put a few fingers on their mouth to show them the sound is produced with their lips. Another technique is to put their tiny hand on your mouth as you produce the sound, so they can feel the air and vibration. Here are some other ideas to promote baby talk!
Positioning – As we mentioned the first week a great place to place your baby when practicing sound production is on your lap with your knees lifted up on a chair or coffee table. The key is to bring them as close to your face as possible so that they can study the movement of your lips and face. And we of course know that it is difficult to always hold your baby so you can even use a boppy pillow (featured in Week 2), activity gym, bouncer, etc. Our favorite is the Rainforest Bouncer by Fisher Price and the Infantino Grow-with-me Activity Gym. We use the bouncer for about 20-30 minutes a day and love it! The activity gym is definitely something your child can grow with since it turns into a ball pit for later on!
Reading – It is also never too early to read! The language input your baby receives from books is priceless. It’s the ideal time to use books with various textures, flaps, and bright colors. The key is to make it fun and not to over stimulate your baby. It is important for the books to have repetitive lines, so babies begin to know what words to expect in the story. We recommend sticking to 1-2 books per week so that your child gets used to the vocabulary, rhythm, and visuals. Here is a list of books we heart for infants: Dear Zoo, Where is Baby’s Belly Button?, Brown Bear Brown Bear What do you See?, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Pat the Bunny, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, anything by Dr. Seuss, and many more! One of Roman’s favorite is Good Night Moon & we read his father’s book from when he was a baby!
Songs & Rhymes – Another perfect opportunity to promote sounds and words is of course singing and listening to music! Don’t be afraid to change up the type of music your baby hears – lullabies, sing alongs, blues, classical, r&b, jazz, pop, opera, etc. We often sing about what we do throughout the day with Roman – wash wash wash your hair, wash wash wash your toes, wash wash wash your belly, we are washing Roman! Use your imagination and make up songs to melodies you are familiar with. Songs that have hand motions such as Itsy Bitsy Spider are also great to involve visual tracking. When singing, it is recommended you vary your volume (whisper vs. loud), change which ear you are singing into (left vs. right), alter your speed (fast vs. slow), etc. Feel free to dance, spin, and move backwards and forward around the room holding your baby in various positions – football hold, airplane hold, etc. to get their vestibular system used to different directions. You can even tap their bodies to the beat with your fingers or have them feel the vibration of an instrument so they can feel the music! Songs and rhymes that we recommend for infants include: Wheels on the Bus, Old McDonald, Row Row Row Your Boat, This Old Man, Where is Thumbkin?, and This Little Piggy. Some CDs that we enjoy are Snack Time by Barenaked Ladies, Best of the Laurie Berkner Band, and Here Come the ABCs as well as Here Come the 123s by They Might be Giants.