Babies’ brains start laying down the groundwork of how to form words well before speech actually begins. This presents several opportunities to us, as parents.
A newborn baby’s brain contains over 100 billion brain cells, or neurons. Each neuron forms small branches called dendrites, which allow neurons to communicate across the connections between them. “About 80% of dendrites form after birth, and a large percentage of them form during the first three years of life,” says speech and language therapist for Nubabi, Carianne Vermeulen.
In her first 1000 days, your baby’s brain is going into overdrive forming these dendrites. This is when the brain is best able to absorb language. As the brain takes in information from the world, when you stimulate your baby through singing, talking or playing, you are helping your baby form these dendrites.
Along with talking to your baby in that instinctive parental lingo known as ‘Parentese’ or ‘Motherese’, try these activities from Nubabi’s Weekly Baby Stimulation Guide to boost baby’s speech and language development, after all, it’s never to early to start learning language.
You want to help your baby learn to talk, let’s first help him to learn to listen to sounds. This is the beginning of communication.
At around 4-6 months, your baby is now starting to communicate with you by shouting to get your attention or at later stages babbling (e.g. baba, dada, babi, mami) and he may use a variety of noises, e.g. imitating coughing, tongue clicks or kisses.
At this stage you will notice that your baby’s vocalisations are not just sounds anymore, but rather goal-directed productions. You can help your baby use sounds that are more and more directed at communicating with you.
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