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Stages Before Words - Strategies to Promote Language Development

Your pediatrician may ask you how many words your child is saying, but there are many other developmental milestones that precede first words. It is important that your child doesn’t miss these pre-linguistic skills.

Reciprocal Play: You use a sing-song voice and talk to your child. When you stop and look expectantly he/she makes noises and “talks” back to you using jargon.

Vocalizes to Objects: Your child holds and looks at objects in his/her hand. He/she vocalizes a variety of consonants or vowels.

Imitates Sounds: Your child copies raspberries, animals noises and other silly sounds. He/she is interested in watching your face and mouth.

Joint Attention: Joint attention is when you and your child share interest in the same item. It’s an early social skill that is foundational for language and cognition. Your child looks at you and then look at the airplane than back at you.

Initiating Social Games: Your child initiates “chase” or rolling a back and forth. Pee-a-boo starts with your child hiding under a blanket and looking to you to continue the game.

Imitates Movement: Your child imitates movements such as clapping his/her hands to copy you. He/she understands and play the “how big?” game by putting his/her hands out wide.

Pointing to objects: Your child is relating to you! He/she points to show you things or ask what something is. He/she points to tell you things or ask what something is. He/she points to tell you what he/she wants or where he/she wants to go.

Gesturing: Representational gestures include waving bye-bye and putting her/her arms up when he/she wants to be picked up. He/she uses his/her body to tell you what he wants!

Social Referencing: Your child wants you to watch him/her. He/she looks over while playing to make sure you’re watching as he/she slides the cards down the ramp.

Push & Pull: Your child pushes and pulls you to things they want. They might take your hand and lead you around the house.

Lanza, J. & Flahive, L. (2008). Communication Milestones.

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