Baby Talk: Giving infants early language tools

By Cameron Burris, Librarian Youth Services, Alachua County Library District Headquarters

By the time babies are 1 year old, they have learned all of the sounds they will need to speak their language. Talking to your baby at a young age will help her to build a rich vocabulary. As you go about your day, talk to your baby about the things you see and do to help introduce her to new words.

Singing to your baby is an excellent way to help your baby learn the sounds and rhythms of language. Songs and nursery rhymes slow down language and separate it into meaningful units. Think of how the melody and rhythm of rhymes such as “Mary Had a Little Lamb” work to make individual sounds distinct.

Reading to your baby also stimulates imagination and helps to develop her vocabulary, memory, listening skills, comprehension and knowledge of the world. By reading to your baby from an early age, she will associate books with the things she loves, specifically the sound of your voice and closeness to you. By spending time reading with your baby, even if for only a few minutes a day, she will learn that reading is an important, worthwhile and fun skill to learn.

The Alachua County Library District has much to offer babies and their caregivers through programming and access to resources. While no two baby programs are the same, they are often comprised of nursery rhymes, songs, finger plays, books and sign language for babies. These programs also give caregivers a space to meet up and share their experiences, while their babies can play and interact with each other. After the programs, or whenever you visit, library staff will be happy to help you find library materials to share with your baby, including board books, picture books, early literacy DVDs, music CDs and our new sensory toys!

Did you know?

By the time children from low-income families have reached the age of 4, they have heard 30 million fewer words than their more economically-advantaged peers. This word gap has a profound effect on a child’s ability to succeed in school and later in life.

The Alachua County Library District is participating in the Association for Library Service to Children’s campaign, “Babies Need Words Every Day.” This campaign supports language learning through talking, singing, reading and playing with your baby. You will find posters with early literacy tips above changing tables at our branches and booklists for babies on our website (www.aclib.us) and at your local branch library.