First words are something we are desperate to hear but did you know first words are often a fluke?
Babies often babble and if it sounds like a word, we give such a positive reaction through smiles, cheers, claps etc that the baby realises this is a good thing and does it again and again. This is particular true if it's a word we are keen to hear such as Mummy or Daddy!
React to your child's babbling as though you know exactly what she is saying and if you hear anything that sounds like a word, go over the top with praise. You can praise any sound your baby makes as it will encourage them to do it more and more.
Imitate the sounds that your baby makes and pause in between to make them feel like you are having a conversation with them.
Have lots of fun with sounds by making animal sounds and onomatopoeic sounds such as 'crash', 'splish', 'splash' 'bang'. Be as expressive as you possibly can be as this will help them to understand further and use lots of expressive words such as 'wow' and 'weeee'.
The most important part is you, the parent, and how you interact and talk with your child really does make a difference!
It is estimated that a child learning their first words needs to hear a word 500 times before they will be able to use it themselves!!
Some common first words and how you can encourage them:
- Dada - the most common first word! The 'd' sound is easier than the 'm'. Encourage them to know who Dada is by pointing at him or a photo of him each time your baby says Dada
- No - this may begin as a head shake. It is important for your baby to learn this word so they can begin to consent
- Dog (or the name of a pet) - especially as they will hear you saying it so regularly. Try and take this and apply it to yourself too and start sentences with Mama is putting the washing away or Mama's going to get baby some lunch
- All gone - say "all gone" after eating, playing with blocks or putting toys away
- Bye bye - wave bye to everyone and every animal you see. You can even try it with toys
- Go - make anything go - cars, blocks, you! Try adding ready, steady before it or whilst your little one is crawling or walking towards something try encouraging them by saying "go, go, go"