From the moment your baby’s born, you can nurture her oral language growth. At first, your baby will learn by listening to new words during her everyday interactions with you. This fun activity takes it a step further, and exposes baby to words based on their descriptive properties. And, it can be repeated over and over, so your baby has plenty of chances to hear a variety of new words on a regular basis.
- three or four items with similar properties (e.g., soft items such as a baby sock, blanket, feather, plush toy or fabric book)
- three or four items with contrasting properties (e.g., hard items such as a small board book, empty baby wipe container or rattle)
- infant seat or a blanket/quilt
Step 1: Gather a few items that are safe for baby to explore that have contrasting descriptive properties. With very young babies, you might choose to begin with soft (e.g., plush toy, fabric book, cotton cloth, etc.) and hard items (e.g., small board book, rattle, plastic toy keys, empty baby wipes container, etc.).
Step 2: Spread a clean blanket or quilt on the floor. Place your baby on her back safely on the blanket. You may choose to place your baby in her infant seat in a safe location. Position yourself close to your baby so that she can easily see you as you talk to her;
Step 3: When your baby is in a calm and happy mood, begin by introducing her to objects that share a descriptive property. For example, you might show her a plush toy and say:
Here is your bunny! Bunny is soft. She has white fur. So soft! Let’s feel soft Bunny!
Gently touch your baby’s hand with the plush toy. Repeat this step with one or two other soft objects.
Step 4: Continue by showing your baby some items that have a contrasting property. For example, you might say:
Let’s take a look at some things that are hard. Oh look! Your book feels hard. It is made from hard paper. Would you like to feel your book?
Gently touch the book with your baby’s hand. When baby is about two or three months old, she may enjoy grasping small objects and exploring them with her mouth.
Step 5: Continue introducing her to a couple of items that share the same property. As your baby looks at the objects or explores them with her hands and mouth, talk about the descriptive properties in addition to the names of the objects.
Step 6: As your baby grows and develops, repeat this activity often using different items and introduce her to a variety of words describing contrasting properties (e.g., smooth/rough, shiny/dull, big/little). Exposing your baby to a variety of words helps her to listen and make important language connections between sounds, words and meanings.