Early on, children become aware that their voices and sounds can be used to manipulate the world around them. This is the first sign of meaningful speech. Before using actual words, your child will begin to associate sounds with objects, people, and events. These productions eventually become close approximations or true words.
- Engage your child in reciprocal vocal play (give and take) during feeding, bathing, or playing.
- Imitate your child’s sounds.
- Sing songs and nursery rhymes, emphasizing key words.
- Hesitate before a word, giving your child an opportunity to fill it in.
- Read books and label the pictures, then point to a picture and provide your child the first sound of the word label, giving him the opportunity to complete it (e.g., point to a picture of a ball and say, “Buh”).
- Narrate your child’s play and daily activities. Help him to put his words to objects, actions and people.
- Respond to your child’s vocalizations and/or verbalizations, even if they do not sound anything like actual words. Positive reinforcement will encourage your child to do it again.