Around the 12-month marker, we often see first words start to emerge.

Many parents believe that first words somehow “don’t count” if they’re not produced using the adult pronounciation (for instance, if a child says “baba” instead of “bottle”).

If you notice that your baby:

  • Uses the same (or very similar) combination of consonants and vowels to express a thought, desire, or need
  • Pairs a gesture with what you think could be an emerging verbalization
  • Vocalizes in various environments or contexts (e.g., says “baba” when she sees a bottle in someone else’s stroller and also when she’s about to sit down for a feed) and with various partners

Chances are, your child may be starting to use “symbolic language.”

So what can you do?!

An example you can use

My 12-month old points at the light and vocalizes “ffff.”

I’m going to go ahead and assume that he is saying the word, “off!”

To help ensure that this is the case, provide him with additional practice, and put the word into a play context, we can turn the light “on” and “off!” He may even start to attempt to say “on,” as well!

This also solidifies the concept behind that vocabulary.

This kind of simple activity targets all areas of development, and requires NO materials other than you, your child, and everyday household objects.

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Looking for more activity ideas like this?

You’re invited to Strength In Words Weekly – you’re closer than you think to doing everything you can to support your infant or toddler’s development.

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Infants and toddlers learn through observation, imitation and interaction.

That means that once your child's physical needs are met, he/she needs:

  • To be able to watch you and hear you
  • Space to move around
  • Someone with whom he/she can interact

That's it. The specific ways you decide to do all of that are up to you, but I'll be in your inbox each week to offer you new ideas to integrate into your daily activity through music, early literacy, sensory experiences, and visual supports.

I promise to deliver useful information on a weekly basis, based on your child's age!


Why? Because we all need this information, and we all need access to resources we can trust. You've got a community of support at your fingertips.

You're already much closer than you think to doing everything you can to support your infant or toddler.

Life throws curveballs all the time, and so do our children. The minute we feel like we "figured it out," they change.

Here's the thing... everything you need and all the ways you can support your child most are already right in front of you. They don't cost anything. They don't require you to purchase the most expensive, newfangled toys.

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