Learning Speech and Language Begins with First Breath

Written by admin, May 8, 2013

May 8, 2013 – May is Speech and Language Month

Right from birth, babies begin to communicate.

Taking cues from the facial expressions and body language of the people around them, infants learn how best to express their feelings and needs. This learning will continue for years as infants grow, and develop the ability and skills to use words and sentences to communicate with others.

This early start to learning means it’s crucial for parents to take the time to nurture and encourage their child’s development of speech and language skills, says Leisa Baker, a Public Health Nurse with Peterborough Public Health.

May is Speech and Language Month and it’s a good time to highlight the role parents play in their child’s development, she says.

“It is important for infants and toddlers to have early exposure to language and communication,” Baker says. “What and how we see and say things sets the pathway for further learning with infants. This allows the brain to grow and helps them develop the ability to interpret and navigate their world with words.”

Baker says parents can nurture speech and language development with their children by:

  • Reading and talking with their infants as soon as possible
  • Providing the correct words for objects when toddlers point or gesture at items
  • Listening to children talk and making eye contact with them
  • Reading, singing and playing social games like peek-a-boo together
  • Exaggerating the pitch and tone of their voice when speaking with children

“Helping children develop speech and language skills is one of the best gifts parents can provide,” she says. “Strong speech and language skills help ensure children are better prepared for school so they can be successful learners in school, and in life.”

PCCHU is a partner in the District Preschool Speech and Language Program, a not-for-profit partnership between health professionals and parents. Parents are encouraged to visit the program’s website at www.kidtalk.on.ca to see if their child’s speech and language skills are on track by reviewing the developmental milestones for children up to five years of age. The site also features information on upcoming events, video demonstrations for helping children develop skills, and links to community organizations and libraries.

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For further information, please contact:

Leisa Baker
Public Health Nurse
 (705) 743-1000, ext. 312