As babies near the completion of their first year, they start to communicate by gesturing towards something/someone, or by pointing or crawling and babbling. They would also communicate by imitating the adults around them. This could be an indication that the baby is learning how to process messages and communicate them verbally.
Noticeably, the baby’s “gaa-goo-grr” will give way to understandable sounds like “ba-da-pa-pa”. Once the baby stumbles upon words like “mama” and “papa” and you start reacting to that, the baby will understand that he/she has said something meaningful, and will soon start using the same sound to attract your attention. Slowly, the baby’s vocabulary will build and he/she starts to associate objects with their sounds.
Now is when you start having more meaningful conversations with your baby, because s/he understands what you are trying to communicate and vice versa. Here are a few suggestions on how to enhance your baby’s speech development.
1. Name people and things around her/him
Start off by familiarizing your baby with the names of people and objects in his/her environment, like “Mama, Papa, Dada, Nana” and “Dog, Cat, Chair, Bed”. It would help develop your baby’s memory better if you also communicated with him/her in more than one language.
2. Name Your Baby’s Body Parts
When you’re around your baby, start naming his/her body parts and make him/her familiar with words like “hand, ear, leg”. It would also help to converse with your baby while you’re at it, by asking questions like “Where is your tummy?”
3. Converse With The Baby
Engage your baby in conversation. Even if he/she speaks nonsense, make an effort to listen to them, then respond to it like you would with a grown up. This encourages them to speak more, and eventually, start making sense.
4. Sing For The Baby
Babies respond to music and songs. In fact, they enjoy a song every now and then, and if you’re lucky, may even do a little dance for you while the music is on.
5. Make Use Of Pictures
Pictures are a great way to engage your baby with words. Point to images and visuals in magazines, books and on your devices, and describe them to your baby. Encourage him/her to respond to your questions by pointing.