Baby Talk! Your Baby’s Speech Sounds Birth to One
This isn’t going to be a post about teaching your baby how to speak before one year of age or how to teach your baby to read by twelve months. We’re really going to talk about what comes easily and naturally during that first year of development and how you can support that.
When we talk about speech sounds in babies, we’re really talking about all of the vocal play and babbling and raspberries that babies do in preparation for learning how to speak- which of course comes later on but even at such an early age, we can support their speech sound development. And we can do it easily, during the day. I’m not trying to add one more to do item on your list but instead give you some ideas of how to easily add some fun “games” or little activities into your day to support baby’s speech.
First, I know babies aren’t saying a whole lot before one year of age but they are constantly learning. And so they can really benefit when we speak with them! This doesn’t mean we need to speak with them the whole day but when you’re interacting, speaking with them, singing to them, we’re doing so much more than we realize to support their speech development!
Although sounds are produced by their tiny little mouth’s, speech is the job of the whole head and body. With babies, I love talking about tummy time. And if you scroll down to the bottom, you can get a handout on increasing your little one’s core strength. Because again, speech isn’t produced in isolation!
In a national survey of 400 pediatric physical and occupational therapists, two-thirds of those surveyed say they’ve seen an increase in early motor delays in infants who spend too much time on their back while awake (1). And generally, gross motor, fine motor, and speech delays go hand in hand. So, I know some parents might be a bit tired of hearing about tummy time, but I promise it’s a worthy cause to pursue.
So, now that we’ve got the core support in place, let’s talk about bottle feeding versus breastfeeding. I don’t recommend one over the other because I realize this is a very sensitive topic AND a choice that needs to be made by the family based on what works for them. The most important thing is that your baby is fed. I highly recommend books by Diane Bahr (scroll down for more info) that can help you make the right choice when it comes to feeding your child and what consideration to take into account with breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
And finally, one other activity that isn’t directly speech related would be facial massage with your baby! You can take a class or check out a good book on facial massage with your baby. It would take a longer video for me to go more into depth about how to do facial massage, but suffice to say, it’s so helpful for your baby. Find a great pediatric massage therapist, or again, check out that book by Diane Bahr (below) because she talks all about massage! Also, side note. I’m not offering medical advice. Massage can be contraindicated in some babies with rashes, sensitive skin, etc so if you have any concerns talk to you pediatrician.
Massage can be a great way to bond, to soothe your baby, and it can also help with that sensory perception of the mouth, that is, how they sense and control their mouths. I recommended facial massage to one family whose daughter was two years old. At first, she really didn’t like facial massage, so I advised parents to go really slowly and do just as much as she would tolerate. After about three weeks, she would go up to her parents and grab their hands to massage her face. Touch is bonding and relaxing and soothing to small babies and children- once they’re used to it and so long as we’re using the right pressure and movements.
So, when should you be concerned about your little one’s speech sounds? If your baby is over six months old and they’re not babbling or they’re very quiet. Talk with your doctor. If your baby is making sounds in the back of their throat from six months on but not making sounds with their lips (like mamama) talk with your doctor. If your baby doesn’t respond to their name when you’re calling them, talk with your doctor! I don’t intend to panic parents at all. I think information is power, and we can use that information to a. Accept baby exactly as they are and b. Guide baby in the way that they learn best.
Now, if you want FIVE fun baby activities to support your baby’s speech, download my handout now!
And, if you think you might be interested in joining my course on raising a bilingual child for parents of children birth to four, please drop your email address HERE and you’ll be notified of when we get ready to launch.
And finally, if you haven’t bought my book yet on bilingual language development for children birth to four, you can find that HERE!
**I am an affiliate with Bookshop.org and do receive a small percentage of any items should you buy them through my affiliate link.