Early Language Development:

Conversational skills start as early as birth when babies have face-to-face interactions with their parents.  These are particularly frequent and become very exciting at about 3 – 6 months of age when babies make more frequent eye contact, smile, make funny faces, coo and make funny sounds.

Psychologists analysed early verbal interactions between infants and their parents and found that many of these early “converstions”:

  • Have pre-speech sounds (including both vowels & consonants)
  • Include all the universal facial expressions (which appear as early as 5 months in utero)
  • Are characterised by expressive hand gestures

Infants also display non-verbal communication behaviour very similar to that of adults such as  pauses in speech, looking at parents and looking away again, using hand gestures and facial expressions.

Toddlers also make use of  “declarative pointing” (pointing to share information with adults).  If adults share their toddlers’ interest and pay attention to the object pointed at, infants are likely to point more frequently and tend to prolong pointing.  But, if adults do not look at the infants or at the object that they are pointing to, the infants point less often and spend less time trying to engage the parent’s attention..