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By Leigh Goessl

Teaching toddlers how to communicate through interaction

Did you know that from the time your baby starts to babble to himself lying in his crib he is beginning to learn how to talk? Those sweet sounds he’s making are the early seeds of communication. According to Parents Magazine, the development of speech and language happens at a “rapid-fire pace” during a baby’s first three years of life. As he grows into toddlerhood, you can further encourage your child to express himself and build stronger communication skills.

Importance of “babble”

Through babble, babies experiment with different sounds as they start the journey to learning how to communicate verbally. Little ones get really excited when they discover the different sounds they can make. Babies explore this skill as they create new sounds, repeatedly making them over and over each time they learn a new one. During this process they also learn that these little squeals of delight are a great way to get mom or dad’s attention.

Children are very intuitive and curious people and they love to absorb what is happening in their surroundings. Learning how to talk is one of those things they pick up on quickly and, as this interest begins to peak, it’s the perfect time to really hone in and try to further demonstrate the art of communication as they move from infancy to becoming a toddler.

Constantly talk to your child

You can encourage playful baby talk through interaction with your child; try to emphasize the sounds he makes. By doing this, your baby begins to learn how to effectively communicate through important listening skills that will carry him to toddlerhood and beyond. But don’t stop at baby talk; ideally, you want to speak to him using “real” words.

Talking to your toddler is an excellent way to teach speech patterns and flow. He is always listening, even if he cannot yet understand the words you are saying. Allowing him to hear you speak (not just “baby talk”) is a great way to familiarize him with speech. Additionally, this is great bonding time.

Listen to your toddler

Along with speaking to your toddler, it is equally important to listen to him and respond, even if you cannot exactly identify what it is he’s saying. Communication is a two-way street and, if he feels he is not being listened to, when he does develop a stronger vocabulary he may not understand he is supposed to listen to others. This could potentially impact his ability to effectively communicate as he grows older and starts to have more interaction with other people.

Spend time reading

Even though babies and toddlers may not act as if they are paying attention (and often may seem to be concentrating on eating or ripping the book), know he is listening and hearing your words, along with the flow of your speech. As he grows throughout the toddler years, he probably will have developed an avid appetite for books; you can continue to nurture this love of reading.

The toddler years will pass all too rapidly, but these are the most significant years to set the foundation for future strong communication skills. Talk to your toddler constantly and listen to what he says to you. Nurturing and developing strong speaking and listening skills will do much to give your toddler the gift of language.

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