Baby Brain Connection

Parenting for Early Childhood Literacy


Activities for "Talking"
Your infant is absorbing language and learning to trust you. Communication is important in developing early bonds with your infant. The more experiences that your baby has for listening, cooing, babbling, and interacting, the better language she will have. The more you talk to your baby, the more her brain will make important connections for language.

The following activities are taken from: (Hit “Activities”)​ by Bronsil; 125 Brain Games for Babies by Silber; and many ideas from educators and parents.

Target Age: Early Infant Birth to 6 months
Skills learned: Trust, Listening, Sound discrimination, Language Development, Sequencing

Keep Talking: Talk to your infant about everything you do when you are together. "I am taking you to the kitchen." "I am changing your diaper." Talk about what you are doing, what your child is doing and what your child sees. Talk to your baby throughout the day, point out things, and name them.  Children will 1) become used to language sounds and patterns and 2) learn more words - when you feed, play, dress, bathe, take walks, go to stores, and visit friends. You can talk while playing and reading, too.

Baby Talk:  Babies are very responsive when you speak in a high pitched sound, slowly, and have expression. Talk slowly and use a playful, loving voice, and stretch out words and make your voice higher, but not necessarily louder. As you speak in “parentese,” hold the baby near to your face and look directly into his eyes.  Say such things, “You are a special baby,” “Look at these ten little fingers and toes.” From time to time,vary the sound of your voice: high, low, singsong, soft.​

Baby Face: Look at your baby’s face when you are talking. Be expressive: smile and make funny faces. Another activity is to point to each part of your child's face, tell your child about it. ("Your nose helps you breathe," etc.)

Repeating sounds and words:  Infants typically respond to repeated sounds.  They also repeat beginning sounds, whatever the language. So, while you are rocking or cuddling, repeat the same syllable over and over… ma, papa. Also, at 3-6 months, babies will start to make lots of sounds, which you can repeat. These simple sounds will later turn into words.  The more you repeat your baby’s sounds, the more your baby will be encouraged to make more sounds.

Singing about the Day: When you are rocking your child to sleep today, sing about the day your child had with you. Sing the song in sequence. Example: "This morning we went to the store," etc.

Rhyme and Rhythm: Children love nursery rhymes! Try holding your child under the arms and move to the rhythm of the words.                  
"Hickory, dickory, dock, the mouse ran up the clock.                 
  The clock struck one, the mouse ran down,                   
Hickory, dickory, dock." 
(This rhyme is great to use when giving your baby a bath and moving the washcloth up and down his arm and then making a splash in the water.) You can get rhyming books such as Mother Goose Book from the library. Also you can find child friendly rhymes on the internet and You Tube.

Language specialists:  If you know more than 1 language, speak both languages to your baby – with songs, rhymes, books, or everyday activities.  Newborns can distinguish sounds from several languages even if they haven’t heard the language before, and this happens more easily when babies are in their first year.

Target Age: Later Infant 6-12 months

Skills Learned: Rhythm Exploration, Listening, Language Development, Sound Discrimination, Classifying  

Active Listening: It is never too early to begin active listening with your child.Hold your child so that the two of you are looking at each other. Talk to your child. Pause. Listen to your child's sounds. When your child stops making sounds you can respond with a remark such as, "Tell me more!"  Having a discussion with your child is important for language development. 

More listening opportunities: Include your baby as much as you can in family conversations around the dinner table. He will enjoy hearing different voices and learn numerous words.  Encourage his responses and interact with him. Don’t interrupt a child to correct speech. Say the sounds correctly when it’s your turn to talk.

Around the Mulberry Bush: Children love to sing and dance to the rhythm of music. Try singing and dancing to: "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush"         
Here we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush,         
Here we go round the mulberry bush,       
  So early in the morning."
Make up the rest of the song and do the actions. Example: “This is the way we twirl around……This is the way we go up high…….This is the way we go down low………”

Singing: Mother Goose Rhymes have been around for decades. They can be an important part of your child's appreciation of language. The book "Mother Goose," is a great book to have. Try to sing these simple songs at bed time to your child: "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,""Baa, Baa Black Sheep," "It's Raining, It's Pouring" You Tube provides child friendly lyrics.

Sing and Work: This is a fun way for you to accomplish tasks around the house as your child observes you. Use the rhyme, "Here we go Around the Mulberry Bush." Use it when you do some activities with your child today. Example:"This is the way we take a bath, take a bath," etc. Even if you are doing something and your child is watching you, you can sing about it. This will keep your child engaged and still free you to do the things you need to do. ("This is the way I check my email...") 

Mirror Play: Sit in front of a mirror with your baby in your lap. Ask questions and give answers like“who is that baby? …And where’s the baby’s foot?” …Shake heads, wave bye-bye, clap hands, make faces and silly sounds, etc. ​

Connect with conversation: Start a conversation with a short sentence like, “it’s a beautiful day. When baby responds with some babble or coo, stop talking and look into his eyes.  As he talks, respond with a nod of your head or a smile and let him know you are listening to him. Continue with another sentence, and always stop and listen to your baby’s response. 

Grocery Shopping: A grocery store is a wonderful place to introduce your child to language concepts. When you take your child to the grocery store, talk to your child about what you are buying. Show and name the objects to your child:  oranges, apples, box of cereal, etc.  Talk to your child about what you are doing.

Building vocabulary: Talk to your child often. Point out the cats, balls, and cookies in her life. Talk about what you're doing throughout the day. Follow her lead and describe the things she points to. Even if she doesn't answer right away, she's still listening and learning. 

Use a varied vocabulary. Children enjoy new and unusual words. Remember that children recognize and understand many more words than they can say. As they learn new words, they may not get them quite"right" at first. Don't feel like you need to correct them right away. Help them. 

Help build a child's vocabulary by adding details to the objects and events of the day. For example, if the child says "ball" you could add, "Yes,that's right, it's a ball. It's a red ball that bounces." Don't be afraid to use a rich vocabulary when you talk about things. 

Tired of talking? Try reading. While exposing your baby to language outside your own day-to-day vocabulary doesn't guarantee she'll learn new words, it may help, and it can be a fun way to be close to your child. Ask questions requiring more than “yes” or “no” answers.

Learning language is hard, but you can help. Be kind. Be patient. Learning words takes lots of practice. Try to include your child in conversations, read books together and have fun with songs and rhymes. Kids learn at their own pace, but the more they hear, the better.