By: Wanjohi. P. Mugambi
- Between eighteen months and two years, your baby will be able to follow directions and begin to put words together, such as “car go” or “want juice.” She will also begin to do pretend play which fosters language development.
- You can spur your child’s communication skills when you: Ask your child to help you. For example, ask her to put her cup on the table or to bring you her shoe. Teach your child simple songs and nursery rhymes. Read to your child.
- Ask him to point to and tell you what he sees. Encourage your child to talk to friends and family. She can tell them about a new toy.
Between fifteen and eighteen months, your child will use more complex gestures to communicate with you and will continue to build her vocabulary. She may take your hand, walk you to the bookshelf, point to a book and say “buk” to say, “I want to read a book with you.” You can help your child talk with you when you:Tell him “Show me your nose.” Then point to your nose. He will soon point to his nose. Do this with toes, fingers, ears, eyes, knees and so on. Hide a toy while she is watching. Help her find it and share in her delight. When he points at or gives you something, talk about the object with her. “You gave me the book. Thank you! Look at the picture of the baby rolling the ball.”
Between twelve and fifteen months, babies begin to use words. This includes using the same sounds consistently to identify an object, such as “baba” for bottle or “juju” for juice. Many babies have one or two words and understand 25 or more. He will give you a toy if you ask for it. Even without words, he can ask you for something—by pointing, reaching for it, or looking at it and babbling. You can help your child say the words she or he knows when you: Talk about the things you use, like “cup,” “juice,” “doll.” Give you child time to name them.Smile or clap your hands when your child names the things that he seest. Say something about it. “You see the doggie. He’s sooo big! Look at his tail wag.”Talk about what your child wants most to talk about. Give him time to tell you all about it. Ask about things you do each day—“Which shirt will you pick today?” “Do you want milk or juice?” Build on what your child says. If he says “ball,” you can say, “That’s your big, red ball.” Introduce pretend play with your child’s favorite doll or toy animal. Include it in your conversations and your play. “Rover wants to play too. Can he roll the ball with us?”
Between eighteen months and two years, your baby will be able to follow directions and begin to put words together, such as “car go” or “want juice.” She will also begin to do pretend play which fosters language development. You can spur your child’s communication skills when you:Ask your child to help you. For example, ask her to put her cup on the table or to bring you her shoe. Teach your child simple songs and nursery rhymes. Read to your child. Ask him to point to and tell you what he sees. Encourage your child to talk to friends and family. She can tell them about a new toy. Engage your child in pretend play. You can talk on a play phone, feed the dolls or have a party with the toy animals.
Between two and three years, your child’s language skills will grow by leaps and bounds. He will string more words together to create simple sentences, such as “Mommy go bye-bye.” He will be able to answer simple questions, such as “Where is your bear?” By 36 months he will be able to answer more complicated questions such as, “What do you do when you are hungry?” He will do more and more pretend play, acting out imaginary scenes, such as going to work, fixing the toy car, taking care of his “family” (of dolls, animals.) You can help your child put all his new words together and teach him things that are important to know.
Infants are born pre-wired to be social and are amazingly adept at initiating and sustaining the relationships with their parents and caregivers. One of your roles is to help fathers and mothers understand that communication with the baby starts even before birth and that infants are social and seek interactions with their caregivers. Parents can learn to attune and synchronize their own interactions to their infant’s cues.
They can start by imitating their infant’s facial expressions and the sounds they make. Infants also use body movements, gazing, and sounds to communicate and interact. Caring, responsive, respectful, and reciprocal interactions with infants and toddlers contribute to their overall and brain development and build positive relationships with them. Ways in which fathers and mothers can ensure that these interactions are positive include showing love, interacting with and not just talking to the child, following the child’s lead, appreciating what the child does, helping the child focus attention, helping the child make sense of his world, helping the child widen her experiences, and helping the chid learn rules, limits, and values.
As children get older, parents can help their children make more sense of their world and widen their experiences by interacting with them in ways that encourage them to talk more and by asking open-ended questions about what they think about something or linking past experiences with present ones. Playing with children is one way parents can have more positive interactions with them. Play is pleasurable for children and parents and helps parents learn more about their child. Play contributes to children’s overall development and children whose parents play with them do better in school.
Playing with children and encouraging their play does not require expensive toys. There are many items around the house that children love to play with, including their parents. Unstructured materials will stimulate toddlers’ imaginations and creativity. The role of the adults is to make sure that the environment and materials are safe and developmentally appropriate for the chid to play with and explore. During your home visits, you can make fathers, mothers and other caregivers aware that talking with a young child is very important. Parents need to understand that in order to foster their child’s development they need to talk to him, listen to him and engage in conversation. And that it is never too early to start.
Talking, listening, reciprocating should happen right from the very beginning when the child is pre-verbal, through an exchange of touch, facial expressions and sounds. Reading to babies and toddlers contributes to their overall development. It should be pleasurable and a time for feeling loved. Books appropriate for infants should contain colourful pictures. As children grow, they like to be able to handle books, so cloth or sturdier board or waterproof books (for the bath) will be appropriate.If families do not have books at home, they can borrow them from libraries, buy them in markets or second hand shops, or make their own books. You have power and opportunity to help fathers, mothers and other caregivers understand that the best way to show love to infants and toddlers is to spend time with them, talk with them, play and read with them. Quality time that infants, toddlers and parents spend together in enjoyable and loving activity is the most precious gift that parents can give to their child.