And the good news for parents is that they don’t have to formally teach babies and language skills, you just need to live in the moment with them and make your interactions with them count, says Mrs Dunstan.
“Aim for lots of back and forth interaction between you and your child and babies and build it into your day.
“Of course it is never too early to start singing and sharing and reading books with your children, and making it a regular part of your day means it becomes a good habit and part of their routine.
“Young babies learn to predict what happens next and knowing what is coming next, helps them to learn,” she says.
Parents don’t need fancy toys or equipment to help their babies and small children learn.
“It is often the really basic stuff that makes the biggest impact,” Mrs Dunstan says.
“And what we often find when we give advice on how to interact and help your baby to communicate is that parents are often already doing much of it and we just provide a reminder that they should keep on doing it.”
One of the first ideas a parent can do is to get down to their children’s level and imitate their facial expressions and words.
“When you are face-to-face with your baby or child, you are more aware of each other and they can look at your face and your expressions and you can follow their lead,” she says.
Slowing down our interactions with our children is another way to help build their language skills.
“Adults tend to talk quickly to get the job done and often we wait less than a second when asking our kids a question,” she says.
“But children need longer to process things so my suggestion is that if parents ask their child a question, they count to five and then let their child answer without being interrupted.”
Taking turns when you are talking to your child, shows them that you are interested in them and lets them have a chance to participate in the “return and serve” nature of a conversation,” Mrs Dunstan says.
Reading was another great way to interact with your child, while helping to build their vocabulary and learn how to communicate, she says.
“There are numerous ways to incorporate the experience of books into your baby’s life and it all depends on what is happening in your family and how your household runs, but what is important is that it is a fun enjoyable moment that lets you and your baby interact in a way that fosters a love of reading.”
“Don’t feel as though you have to read the whole book, or even any of the words on the page, just use the pictures to interact with your baby or young child,” she says.
Taking turns and building word banks in your children’s brains can also be encouraged with everyday activities and interactions.
“Parents could fill an old pillow case with items from around the house and take it in turns to pull out the objects and describe them to each other,” Mrs Dunstan says.
Using a wide variety of words and conversations around everyday activities like cooking, washing or having a bath was another good way to help build language skills.
“Your aim is to have as many back and forth interactions between you and your children, anything that includes sounds, words or stories,” she says.