5 Ways to Play with Your Baby To Encourage Speech and Language Development

by | Apr 12, 2019 | Speech

Continuing on our series “5 Ways to Play with Your Baby at Each Stage from 0-12 Months” are our fantastic Speech Therapists Kristen Eng, SLPA and Karen Adkins, MS, CCC-SLP sharing their ideas to encourage speech and language development through play.
0-3 months
1. In this time, your child will start “cooing.” Encourage them to make sounds by responding to this “coo” as if they are talking to you. Talk back to them in a simple, song-like tone, including a higher pitch, stretched out speech, and simple words.
2. Sing to your child. A familiar song can create comfort. As your child begins to recognize your voice, this can help with times you cannot physically hold the child, such as in the car.
3. Show your child books and toys with bright colors and simple pictures and watch how the child will listen and respond to your voice and sound. Your child will begin to attend to the speaker’s face when spoken to during this time.
4. Make up rhymes and make silly faces, these opportunities for imitation are always important.
5. Imitate both sounds and movements your child makes and wait for your child to respond in order to create a back-and-forth interaction. You can always use some real words too.
4-6 months
1.  Your child will start exploring new sounds, such as “raspberries” and simple babbling. Imitate your child’s sounds to encourage back-and-forth babbling.
2. Your child will start smiling, so respond to smiles by talking to them. Tickling games are great ways to encourage smiling and social interaction.
3. Your child will start establishing eye contact. Hold a rattle or other type of infant toy up towards your face while you make silly sounds. This will draw their attention to you.
4. Notice what your baby is looking at and then comment about it. For example, if your baby is looking at their feet, gently tap their feet and say “Feet! Your feet are so cute!”
5. During this time you can begin to shape noises to label objects.  “Bah” can be shaped by us to label a familiar object such as a bottle.  For example, when you bring them the item, hold it up to your face and say “Want your bottle? Bah bah bah.”
7-9 months
1. Your child will produce babbling by repeating sounds, such as “mama mama.” Imitate them and then change it up to encourage them to try more sounds! Match this with an action, such as saying “ba-ba-ba” to the rhythm while bouncing your baby on a ball.
2. Your child will be able to start copying simple actions, so model different ways to play with toys, such as shaking, stacking, and rolling them. Wait for them to do something with a toy and then copy what they do!
3. Sing songs and fingerplays with them by holding their hands to help them do the movements with you. For example, say “how big is Joey? SO BIG!” while lifting his hands into the air. Repeat these routines several times so your child starts to anticipate what will happen. Then pause in the middle and see if your child will try to pull up their hands.
4. Read to your child and point to the pictures while labeling what you see. Point to toys in their environment and label it. When they respond by looking at it, reaching for it, etc., make a comment about it.
5. Your child will start responding to their name. Play little games, such as “Where’s daddy?” and “Where’s (child’s name)?” And point to the person in question.
10-12 months
1.  In this time, your child will start producing more and more sounds. Add sound effects to play, such as saying “ahh” after taking a drink, “shhh,” eating sounds, and simple animal and vehicle sounds.
2. Your child will start being able to play simple pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo games. Play these games and other fingerplays often, and repeat several times, encouraging them to make the movements.
3. Your child will make simple requests with gestures and vocalizations. Set up opportunities that tempt them to do this, such as opening a jar of bubbles, blowing some, closing the jar tightly, and then handing it to your child. Wait 10-20 seconds and then encourage them to hand it back to you as a request for “help” or “more” bubbles. Label their request as they hand you the item.
4. Continue to chat and narrate what you are doing with your child. Encourage that back and forth talking with your child. Use simple exclamatory words they may imitate, such as “yay” and “uh oh.”
5. Your child may begin responding to some verbal requests and begin to shake their head. Encourage them to use gestures by modeling waves, high-fives, clapping, pointing, and blowing kisses.

If you have any questions about your child’s speech and language development please call T.E.A.M 4 Kids to schedule an evaluation at our Surprise or Peoria locations.

Kristen Eng, SLPA
Karen Adkins, MS, CCC-SLP