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Talking With Children: Helping babies listen, learn and talk

Speech & Language Pathologists

Updated on May 9, 2013

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The most anticipated moment for parents is when their baby makes sounds or babbling in response to play or talk or says "mama" or "dada" for the first time.

It is difficult to imagine that by 22 months old, your baby has learned to listen to the sounds that will be needed for talking but also reading, writing and spelling. The baby has organized the rules to form words and sentences. The baby has organized meaning of words into categories, so words can be remembered and found when talking, but also for later reading stories or learning in school.

Three Easy Steps for sharing laughter, love and fun with your baby:

1. Learn to explore new approaches so you can match your baby’s unique learning style to help make it easier for your baby to listen, learn and talk.

2. Learn about baby’s development, so the time and effort you spend will have the greatest benefit for your baby.

3. Learn about your baby’s unique style to learning and developing communication.

Do you have questions?

When parents explore new approaches, some babies respond immediately but some take more time to learn and benefit from the approaches. Sometimes, there are other reasons that a baby may not respond to the approaches, and the parent would need further guidance. For these babies, the best results are achieved if the baby is less than 12 months old but babies up to 22 months old can benefit.

Some things to consider:

1. If a baby is very smart or has some great strength in learning, the baby’s ability to listen and learn may be far better than the ability to talk. Parents choose the way they talk with their baby, based on their baby’s understanding of language. If there is a difference between the baby’s understanding and talking, the baby will have difficulty learning from the parent’s talking. The gap between listening, learning and talking can be frustrating for the baby and affect later learning.

2. If any family member (brothers or sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents) had difficulty in school such as learning to read or write, or have a learning disability, the baby may have weaknesses like their relative and the parents will need some guidance during Steps 2 and 3 to identify the baby’s strengths, weakness, and the specific development that would be most beneficial to target.

3. If the baby had colds, allergies, ear infections or fluid in their middle ear within their first year of life, there may be a gap between their listening and the sounds and words they can say in talking. The parents will need some guidance during Steps 2 and 3 to identify the specific sounds and language that would be most beneficial to target.

For more information, please visit www.TalkingWithChildren.com.

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