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I was picking my kids up from day care the other day. I asked my son (two and a half) to say “Hi” to my daughter (eight months) and he turned to his sister and exuberantly said “Aahhh!” It made me laugh because that is the sound my daughter makes when she “talks” to her brother and my son was trying to “speak her language.”
Yet, I asked myself “Am I doing enough to help develop my daughter’s language skills?” When my son was eight months old he had a wider range of sounds than my daughter currently does. I gave this some thought and here’s my answer: My husband and I anticipate her needs, plus she has a big brother to help her communicate. I admit it, with two kids, it’s often easier to just hand her what I know she wants than make an effort to help her communicate what it is she wants. I need to work on that, and as I made a list of what would work, I wanted to share it with you.
I’m a nurse in the Division of Rehabilitation Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and I hang out with a lot of talented pediatric speech therapists and managers (For example, Christopher Stevens, a speech and hearing manager, who collaborated with me on this post). As a team, we talk with families about their child’s language and development every day. As a result, I’ve picked-up on some valuable tips for at-home language development. Keep reading because I’d love to share what I’ve learned over the years!
For my son, we name things. He loves to hang out on the living room couch, stare out the window and talk about what he sees. Same while driving. For example, if we drive past a fountain I hear about it for the next five minutes! “I see the fountain!” “Do you see the fountain Mommy?” “Fountain!” “Bye-bye fountain! See you later!” He likes to name parts of his body too.
Christopher Stevens, the Manager of Hearing & Speech at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ Division of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine offers insight on what you can do if your child’s speech and language development remains a concern, even after trying these at-home tips.
If your child’s pediatrician recommends any extra help, you can partner with your child’s audiologist and speech therapist and follow through with any recommendations, shares Christopher Stevens. Remember, you are your child’s first AND lifelong teacher!
If you find yourself not encouraging your child to communicate, these tips can help get you on track to help with language development.
In addition, I found this webpage from the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communications Disorders, helpful when trying to determine appropriate language development milestones.