It is never too soon for books
It is never too young to start sharing books with your child. At this very young age board or cloth books are great. Also, showing the enjoyment you get from reading is a great way to show your child books are interesting.
In the development period between 8 and 20 months, babies’ understanding increases. In their speech they are making noises that match the toys they are playing with; “brruum” for a car. They are starting to use words which are important to them like, “mummy”, “spoon”, “teddy”.
It is at this stage that the young child starts copying the words that are used as they play with you. Therefore, it is important that you do speak with your little one and allow them time to respond by making noises, waving their arms and pointing. Sharing stories at bedtime or when snuggled up on the sofa, singing songs, holding your child’s arms to help them do the actions to songs/rhymes and telling them the names of objects they pick up or point to, are all things adults can do to support early communication.
Children enjoy and learn from watching your face and mouth as you speak so ensure that they can see you. Prams that face you are helpful for this when you are out and about.
During the time of approximately 18 to 24 months your child is really beginning to experiment with words and sounds. At this time their world should be one full of words. When you read a story such as We are going on a bear hunt, your child is starting to join in with the sounds. Your child will be starting to tell you the name of the toys and things they want such as doll or ball – and encourage them to do so. At this point in time, they will be able to find a toy or an object that they know when you ask them. Encourage them to say its name.
It is at this point in their development that children start using the words they hear you say, such as “good girl”, “there’s a happy boy”, “eat up” etc. You may want to give some thought to the words you use as these are the words your child is learning. They are beginning to put a few words together to express what they want or feel – “I sleepy”, ”want water”. Alongside this they are beginning to use lots of everyday words that they have heard and are important to them – such as “cold”, ‘hot”, “doll" or “car”.
At this time they are also beginning to ask questions of you, such as “What’s this?”, or “Why?”. It is so very important that you respond to these questions as this is how your child’s understanding and vocabulary will build and expand. With all your input your child will be beginning to talk to you about what they are doing, playing and seeing. It is important you talk to your child about the sounds they hear as you explore the beach together, the foods and shapes in the supermarket, and what you need to buy to make supper.
Other tips to encourage vocabulary and understanding are to give your child choices and wait until they respond with what they would like, such as, “Would you like a banana or a piece of orange?“. Allow them to help you sort out things like the washing, naming the clothing. Play games in which you give instructions for them to do things such throw the bean bag. In fact, talk with your child as much as you can remembering to give them sufficient time to think through what you have said and answer.
By ensuring you are continually engaging with your child through words in these first 1001 days you will be really supporting your child’s early communication and language and helping their future development and learning.
Of course your role in supporting your child’s development and learning in communication and language does not stop once they turn two. Throughout their young lives we need to be continually speaking with them, sharing books, introducing exciting sounding words, responding to their questions, playing with puppets and engaging in conversation.
However, the first two years are just so important. Enjoy!