One of the first baby milestones that parents look forward to is that precious first word. Will it be mama or dada? It’s a battle that will go on until the first word is spoken. To coax a word out, you might’ve tried saying the same word a hundred times while your baby looked at you like there was something wrong with you. Although there is no magic that can make your child start talking immediately, there are certainly a few things you can do to increase the chances of your baby saying the first word.
1. Listen first, talk next
Right from the beginning, your child will start to start to say things that might make no sense whatsoever. But did you know that this babble is your child’s attempt at speaking? When she babbles, rather than ignoring it, try mimicking the sounds. Since babies tend to follow your lead, you are actually encouraging your little one to speak more by repeating after them.
2. New acquaintances
Although your baby will learn a lot of things from you, exposure to older children will help them get that first word out that much sooner. This is the reason many parents find that their second child started speaking very early when compared to the firstborn. Schedule play dates with kids who are a little older, this will motivate your child to reach milestones like walking, talking and much more.
Reading stories for your little one is very important not only in building up vocabulary but also for making sure your baby develops the habit of reading. Your baby will of course not understand all the difficult words but this doesn’t mean you restrict yourself to baby books, any good book read out aloud will have the same effect.
4. Encourage them
When you ask your baby something, don’t let it be just a yes or no question. Even when they’re trying to say something, don’t shut them up. Encourage them to speak as much as possible. A good start is to say ‘and…’ everytime they pause or stop talking.
5. Don’t boss them
Keeping the child in place is part of being a parent but when it comes to your child’s learning, yelling or forcing them to do something will get you nowhere. A better alternative is to follow your child’s lead and let them be the boss. This could be during playtime or when they’re trying to be creative with something, don’t restrain them from doing so.
6. Have patience
This is the most important thing you can do as a parent as your child grows is to be patient. Not all children are the same so if your neighbour’s kid started speaking at 10 months old, doesn’t mean your baby will do the same too. Speech development is much more than the first word so don’t strain yourself thinking too hard about when your baby will start talking. It’ll happen in due time.