Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How to get my infant to talk: Tip #7!

It's Tip Tuesday and since I receive questions about facilitating and eliciting language in very young children often from parents all over the world I thought I'd do a series offering tips and techniques I have done (and still do) with my own kiddos to get them talking!  You will notice there will be very few speech pathology terms used here as the goal of this series is to speak directly to parents.  However this information can be used by SLPs, early interventionists, or early childhood educators as well.  These tips are targeted for children 0-3 yrs (or cognitive equivalent).

Tip #7 (here's Tip #6):

Use Music.  Music can be a GREAT way to introduce new vocabulary as well as keep your child entertained.  So what do I do, just play children's CDs?  Well children CDs are great and I recommend playing them for your children, but I also recommend taking the time to sing these familiar children's songs to your child for a number of reasons.  Firstly, you can sing as fast or as slowly as your child requires to aid in his/her understanding of the language.  Secondly, you can repeat favorite songs or songs your child does not seem to understand often in order to improve his/her comprehension of various language concepts.  Thirdly, you can use hand motions or props to aid your child's understanding.

Dancing is just fun and adds some great gross motor input to the activity.  Some children (my oldest is like this) improve attention, memory and retention skills simply involving another part of the brain (i.e. motor cortex).  Simply by adding some dance moves (carrying baby and dancing with him/her or if your baby can stand, having him/her bounce up and down) and/or finger plays along with music, your child's attention and motivation to participate in music play may improve.

Rhythm play is simply finding ways you can clap, bang on drums, shake rattles, tambourines, or rainsticks etc. to the beat of the music when you sing or play the CDs.  Rhythm play is a great way to incorporate development of prosody to your child's play.

How can music help my baby talk?  Well, singing is a great way to encourage various pitch and sound productions.  Simply singing parts of "Old MacDonald" your baby will be encouraged to produce long vowels "E, I, O" as well as animal sounds.  By reciting the Alphabet song, your child will be developing his/her ability to recall letters.  By singing "Apples and Bananas" your child can begin to play with various vowels within the same surrounding consonant combinations as speech develops.

Tip:  When using music, I recommend paying attention to the songs your baby seems to enjoy the most and be sure to repeatedly sing them over for days and even weeks.  As long as your baby is still enjoying the song, keep signing it.  If your baby is not attempting to hum, vocalize or imitate sounds while you sing, try slowing down and singing at a much slower pace.  You may just be singing too quickly for your baby to keep up.  You can also use the delayed response technique, where you sing the first line and second line of a familiar song without singing the last word, then wait expectantly to let your baby know it's time for him/her to vocalize for you to continue singing.

Why does it work?  Not all children learn the same way so adding music, dancing, and even some rhythm play can have positive effects on language development, speech production and prosody.

Check out Tip #8 here!

Happy taking and singing!
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