8 Ways to Help Babies Communication Skills

Easy ways to boost babies communication skills through play #babydevelopment

There are many ways babies learn to communicate with the world around them.  While in the womb, babies kick, move, and let you know just how they’re feeling.  Ever get a jab to the rib cage?! Ooch!

After birth, babies use crying as their primary form of communication.  As the grow and develop, they’ll learn valuable skills needed to begin using language.  Here are 8 ways to help babies learn to communicate through play that we use daily.


We use and LOVE Baby signing app from Apple.  Even my older son watches and teaches his baby sister.  He really gets a kick out of poop, like cracks up, go figure?! Oh, boys.  Introducing sign language to babies benefits their development in many ways, such as increased vocabulary, earlier use of words and phrases, engagement in two-way conversations, and reduces frustration.  Along with language skills, early use of sign language enhances cognitive, academic, social, and emotional development [source].  Hand-eye coordination develops sooner than acquisition of verbal skills, therefore infants can learn simple signs for common words.

Signing with baby not only helps develop their early literacy skills, but creates a special bond between parent and child.  Plus, its fun! The key is repetition (patience too!).  Begin by emphasizing the key word along with the sign, so your baby can clearly see and hear the connection.  For instance, baby Hope’s first sign was “more”, so I would ask, “Do you want more food? Yes (shaking my head up and down), I’ll get you some more!”

Signing can come very quickly, especially if baby is developmentally ready.  For us, baby Hope signed “more” within two weeks of starting and after two months, signs “mama”, “dada”, “eat”, “all done” and waves.

Our daily play routine:  we enjoy using signing while playing games, such a rolling a ball and signing (bring fingertips together in a ball form); singing our favorite lullabies and signing; or playing an object game, like holding up a banana and asking, “What’s this … a banana? (sign: holding up pointer finger and peeling it from tip to bottom of finger).  My favorite part is the look on her face when she understands that you actually understand her — ah, the communication connection.


Babies are sensitive to rhythmic language patterns.  Becoming aware of rhyming sounds boosts brain activity and a child’s early literacy ability.  Using simple repetitive sounds in a sing-song way, with actions, provides an important tool for babies’ to understand language.

Through simple play and excitement, babies will begin exploring lots of vowel sounds like, aaaa, eeee, and then, emerging language skills such as consonant sounds: baa, maa, daa, gaa.

Our daily play routine:  Baby Hope bangs her Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack rings together and we recite, “Bang, bang, bang!” or “Tap, tap, tap!” in a sing-song pattern.  The rings are a perfect size for her little hands, plus we’re working on bringing two objects together intentionally, imitation, and connecting sound to action.  Banging is a recent mastered skill, so next I will be looking for intentional placement of an object.


Reading books is another great, likely one of the best, ways to encourage language development in babies, actually all ages.  Engaging babies while pointing to pictures in books and asking questions helps them develop early literacy skills.  Also, use their hands to tap on objects in the book to help initiate pointing.  Early Moments shares a wonderful post, 10 reasons why you should read to your kids.  We really enjoy picture books to help build imagination, ask lots of questions, and build a story.


Playing simple, fun discovery games is an excellent way to stimulate cognitive development in babies.  Our daily play routine:  what’s hiding underneath the cloth?  Baby Hope loves this game. We use these adorable, Colorful Wooden Egg Music Shakers.  You could also make them with all your leftover Easter eggs too.  First, gain their attention and place a desired toy, preferably a noisy one, underneath a small towel.  Next, ask “Where did the rattle go?” and use an appropriate gesture, like shrugging your shoulders.  The idea is for her to discover it, pull the towel, intentionally grab the toy, and play.  For us, this is an emerging skill.


Who doesn’t love peek-a-boo? Peekaboo is a simple, fun game that teaches many skills: cause and effect, anticipation, and who doesn’t love baby smiles, right?! As baby develops, this simple interaction will become a two-way game.  Once baby masters the anticipation, they’ll begin reacting by pulling your hands away (my son loved this part), if using a cloth to hide, pulling it down, and even using their little hands to return the play.  The best part, all these interactions with baby creates opportunities for language.

Helping babies develop language

Here’s baby Hope after a round of peekaboo to try to get her to smile for Easter pictures.

Helping to improve communication through play

And here is her expression after the picture … priceless.


Adding simple descriptions to basic conversation helps babies learn valuable skills needed for speech and reading development.  Providing a rich language environment, encourages babies’ verbal development, plus it’s fun! I adore baby Hope’s facial expressions during our conversations.

  1.  “Look! There are two green squares.”
  2. “The big red truck is noisy.  Do you like trucks?”
  3. “I love your purple rattle.  It’s longer than this one …”
  4. “Oh, this is Mommy’s locket.  Here is your shiny necklace.  It opens and closes.” This is also a great way to avoid using “no!” all the time —redirects behavior instead.

This is a big one in our home.  Using descriptive language in our daily conversations has really improved my sons language development (he was delayed).  It’s interesting to hear him using it in his daily conversations now.  Nothing is, “Look at that ball”, it’s more like, “Look! That big blue ball is bouncing higher than that car!”

Sarah, at How Wee Learn (fantastic blog!) shares a wonderful post, playful ways to develop language in toddlers outside.


Confession time: I talk to myself, like a lot.  I go on the notion it equates intelligence, right?! So, this is a brilliant way for me to evoke language and teach conversational turns.  Vocalizing your daily routines gives babies language, especially if there is a delay.

  1. “Mommy is opening the fridge.  Look! (pointing to the object) I’m pouring your milk in a cup.  We drink from a cup.  I like milk, do you?”
  2. “I like to read books.  Want to read the Big Blue Truck?”
  3. “Do you see the clouds in the sky? I like clouds.  They are white and fluffy.”

Think of it as reading your daily routines out loud to your baby.


Babies are so curious about the wold around them and although they might not have the words, they can communicate effectively — crying, shaking their head yes and no, gesturing up, laughing, and more.  Asking lots of open-ended questions teaches babies about language structure — when to pause, when to speak, and emerging skills, beginning to understand varying tones in our voices.

Our daily play routine:  role playing together with her Chatter Telephone (remember this toy as a kid?!). I say, “Ring, ring, oh, the telephone is ringing baby Hope! Would you like to get it? (pause) Ok, I will get it!  Well … yes, we’d love to go to the park… ” Then I ask, “Hope, would you like to talk to Daddy?” (hand the phone to her).

Another great activity to stimulate communication in babies is redirecting with toys (also great to reduce using the word NO all the time too).   For example, “This is Mommy’s locket (removing from her hands), here’s your play bracelet.  It’s goes on your wrist.”  You are teaching so many valuable lessons in simple activities — body parts, language, imitation play, and turn taking, and the structure of language.

What are your favorite activities for language development?


Always keep in mind, all babies develop differently and skills emerge at different stages.  My son didn’t have a lot of language until he was almost two and now communicates very well, so don’t beat yourself up (we all do it!).  I intentionally left the age ranges out, but Pathways.org is an excellent, credible resource for sensory, communication, and physical milestone development.  Just because your baby is not doing a preferred activity at a certain age, isn’t necessarily an indication of a delay.  As always, discuss any concerns with your childs pediatrician.

Thanks for reading.  HAPPY PLAYING! 🙂


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