What is language development?
Language development in babies and toddlers encompasses verbal and nonverbal forms of communication, skills which rapidly increase as the child grows and develops. These communication skills are broken down into two areas: receptive and expressive language. Receptive language is our ability to understand messages we hear, see and feel, while expressive language is the way we communicate our individual wants and needs.

Some examples of receptive language skills include: smiling when interacting with a caregiver, attending to the person who’s talking, and playing speech routine games like peek-a-boo. Responding to the “give me” command, and pointing to body parts when asked are also examples of receptive language skills.

Expressive language skills include: crying, cooing, laughing, whines, shaking head and “babbling”. As the child develops skills will include: saying “mama”, “dada”, “no”, “uh-oh!” and other single words. Meaningful gestures liking waving and holding arms up to be held are other examples of expressive language.

What are some ways to develop language skills?
As a parent or caregiver there are many ways to support your child’s language development. Talking, singing and reading to your child are three major ways to introduce them to language.

Talk to your child
Tell your child the things you are doing like: “I’m drinking coffee”, “I’m putting away dishes.” Talk to your child about what you think they are seeing: “you’re eating a banana” or “big yawn, you’re getting sleepy.” Talk to your child about everyday things like: “pick up your toys” or “finish your milk.”

Sing to your child
Singing with your child can be a fun way to develop language skills. Sing along to the music and invite your child to do the same.

Read with your child
Reading with your child helps develop both receptive and expressive language skills, along with increasing your child’s vocabulary. Plan time each day to read with your child.