Getting your child to say their first few words is stressful. "One of the first things you should do is talk to the child," says Nolte. "If you do that, the child will get used to listening to the sound of the language." However, don't stress if your child isn't talking yet. Most children take about a year before they begin to form words, but some take a little longer.
Human interaction is key to developing language. Setting your child in front of the TV for a few hours is no substitute for face-to-face interaction with you or someone else. "We're not a flat screen," says Nolte. "They won't get as much from that as they will from a full dimensional person or animal... They get to see how the mouth works or or the eyes work."
Reading works in the same way. While you read to your child, your son or daughter can watch your face and hear you pronouncing the words. "They get used to the sounds of the language very early," says Nolte. "It's a great way to interact and bond." While reading the same story over and over again may be boring for you, remember that it's an important learning tool for your child. "Do it every night - every morning, if you can," adds Nolte.
Talking isn't the only way to communicate with your child, though. Gestures and sign language can also help your child convey what they want to say. If you're asking your child if they want a drink, pretend you're holding a glass up to your mouth. If you're talking about answering the telephone, make a phone with your fingers and hold it up to your ear.
Simple hand gestures can make the meaning of words clearer for your child, but can also help them show you what they want. Children will learn words for things that they like first - such as dog, cat, mom or dad. Some words are too difficult for small children to pronounce, so a hand gesture helps ease the frustration of not being able to tell you what they want.
For more information on teaching your child to talk, as well as additional parenting advice, click here to visit www.AmericanBaby.com.
By Erin Petrun