Babies and Language

The word ‘infant’ is derived from the Latin ‘infans’ which means “he who is unable to speak”. Although babies can not talk, communication with a baby can begin from day one. Babies communicate through expressions, noises and body movements and we respond to them in the same way.

By the end of a baby’s first year she is usually able to verbalize a few words. Some of these words are recognizable such as mamma and dada and others are only recognizable by the parents for example ‘da’ for duck.


As the months progress more and more recognizable words are added to your baby’s vocabulary. Your baby will be able to understand much of what you say but will not be able to express herself back to you. This is frustrating and the reason behind much of the crying, screaming and tantrums that are experienced during the toddler years.

Reading to your baby and providing him with a love of books is an important aspect of developing language. From about 3 months of age you can start exploring books with your baby. Spend a few minutes each day cuddling up with him and reading. He can participate by turning pages and pointing to pictures that you describe. As your baby grows he will be able to turn pages on his own, recognize pictures and eventually words. You may even find him reading alone during play time.

Talking to your baby about what she is doing or playing with and talking about what you are doing is also an important aspect of developing language. When you are in the kitchen cooking, talk about the ingredients and procedure you are following. When you are out walking, stop and talk about a beautiful flower or a cute dog that you pass. When sitting with your baby focus on what she is playing with and describe it. When playing with stacking cups you could say “you are making a loud noise banging those cups together. This is the green cup and this is the red cup.” Your baby is constantly learning by what you say so make sure what you describe is simple, clear and relevant.

By 2 ½ years old many children are able to communicate clearly. Before this age children can find communicating extremely frustrating and spend much energy pointing, grunting, screaming and crying to get what they want. Even though babies do not have the skills to talk, from about 6 months of age babies can learn how to communicate through signs. From the age of 6 months of you can teach your baby sign language. Baby sign language has shown to decrease tantrums and crying in young babies and help babies talk sooner.  Learning baby sign language is easy and simple to teach to your baby.  Click here to find out more about baby sign language.

The gift of language is something that is continually given to babies by parents and carers. Reading, talking and signing are all important aspects to develop the important skills of language for your baby.



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