You may think your baby does not understand a word you’re saying but fact is your baby has been learning language since before he was born. Babies have been endowed with skills that help them learn language naturally. This set of skills helps them acquire an understanding of the surroundings, assist them in expressing themselves, and in interaction with the environment.
Listening Skills: The listening skills help the baby recognise and attach meaning to whatever he is hearing. Hence, you should talk to your baby from the first day of his life. He is listening to the fine details of your voice, a voice which he prefers over other sounds.
Vocal Skills: Initially your infant’s vocal skills consist of primarily cries, burps and maybe some ‘oooo’ sounds. Soon the baby learns to make noises that almost sound like words you speak. Vowels, ‘coos’ and ‘goos’ emerge and make way for a more complex repertoire of sounds. As they grow, infants experiment more and more with their mouth, tongue and throat. As parents, you should always react to these sounds your infant is making. When he makes these sounds, go ahead and make them back. Very soon, the two of you will be having a whole “vocal” conversation.
Interaction Skills: Babies always have certain preferences that directly lead to wonderful interactions between them and their caregivers. For instance, during the first few months after birth, infants prefer looking at objects varied in shapes and lighting. They like to see something that has angles and curves, as well as differences or contrasts in lightness and darkness. Parents should hold the baby so that they can look at their face. This is an excellent position for boosting his visual skills. The initial smiles which are non-social, are soon shaped into interactive smiling gestures. The way you react to your baby’s smile helps him understand this tool for expressing happiness. These preferences of your baby to your face and voice pave a path for future meaningful interactions.
Joint Attention: This is an essential skill that your child needs for developing language. Joint attention is when two or more individuals are focused on, or observing the same object, person or event. This skill is important because when you both are looking at the same object, your comments about that object have more meaning to him. He will benefit from your language models (the way you speak and express) because the language you use is directly tied to the object of his focus.