You can teach baby Spanish by setting a strong foundation from the early days. A baby’s brain has the ability to grow at an outstanding rate! I have personally found the first year with each of my little ones to be very challenging while very rewarding at the same time.
There is a lot happening in their little brains. The seeds for language development are already being planted well before they even utter the first word. We as bilingual parents can start helping them develop these skills from the very beginning.
I want to share with you some toys that can help you teach baby Spanish. You can use them for other target languages as well since they all help to work on foundational skills. But before I can do that, let’s just quickly go over what’s happening in their little
Teach baby Spanish through their cognitive development
Here are just some of the highlights of what you may see in their first year of life. Milestones are just an average and every child is different so remember to take these with a grain of salt. If you are curious about this topic and would like much more detailed information of what you may expect from your bilingual baby, the milestones chart may come in hand.
– Around 6 weeks you may start to see a social smile.
– By 3 months, you may hear some “cooing.”
– At 6 months, you may hear some babble.
– Around 12 months, you may hear your child’s first words.
Clearly this is a very simplified version of what a baby’s first year is like. However, it is important to understand what may happen so we know what to work on to help them along.
Here’s the thing with this age group, there is no magic pill that’s going to teach baby Spanish overnight. Instead, I like to encourage parents to help babies with their cognitive development as every single one of these skills will facilitate their language development for when they are ready to utter their first words.
In those early days, our infants communicate through crying, eye contact and listening. Here I will break down some toys that help you do that:
Teach baby Spanish through sounds
Teaching babies to interact with sounds helps set a foundation for when they are ready to talk. We make them, they imitate them. This allows them to experiment with oral production and aids us to teach baby Spanish. Here are some of my favorite toys to make sounds more fun:
– Basketball – Make a sound every time you get the ball through the hoop like “swoosh” for example. Baby will start associating the sound with the action and over time start mimicking it. You can also use it to emphasize target sounds. Grab the “ball” and every time you put it through the hoop say “ball” or “pelota.” Target words will come in handy in the toddler years but you can start early.
– Ball Pit – This is a hit with babies! We used a ball pit for the first time at my daughter’s first birthday party. Grab a ball and work on up and down sounds. Choose if you want to say the word or associate a sound to go with each motion. Babies will likely start making the sound so that you move the ball up and down. It’s adorable and it gets them communicating.
– Stacking blocks – This is a toy that can grow with your child. Stack them up and make a sound every time you set a block. Then, your baby can knock them down giving you another opportunity to make a sound. “Uh oh” goes really well with this group!
– Squirt Toys – Babies love to play in the water. Introduce water toys during bath time. Squirt toys are great because they are interactive and allow you to work on water sounds such as “splash” or “plas.” There is something particularly powerful about feeling and seeing the water squirt while hearing the sound.
Teaching baby Spanish through sensory simulation
Infant and babies learn through their senses. It is how they take in and interpret information. Baby toys are, therefore, invaluable and something I high recommended for normal sensory development. Here are two of my favorite ones to teach baby Spanish through sensory simulation:
– Bumpy Balls – There are many variations of this toy but here are the reasons why I love these toys for babies. They have multiple textures which allow for tactile sensitivity and to teach baby about variations. Every time they touch a certain texture you can teach them the name for each. It will go over their heads at first but over time they will start to make the association. This particular ball also makes a rattle sound and those sound help to make neural connections in babies’ brains! I also love the bright colors which aid in the development of babies’ visions.
– Winkle Rattle – This is one of my must give gifts to friends with new babies! It’s a really soft rattle with soft little tubes for babies to hang on. They can hold on and rattle while working on their gross motor skills. The rattle is really soft but just enough for them to explore with the sounds. Teethers are also soothing for their gums and just a great addition to a parent’s toolkit. It’s won a bunch of awards and it’s a hit with every baby I’ve tried it on. Listening is a really important skill for our little linguists and this toy helps them listen to the subtle sounds of their rattle.
Teaching baby Spanish through eye contact
Babies use eye contact to communicate with us. It’s one of their very first and most powerful ways to connect with their care taker so it’s very important that we foster their ability to do so. Here are some of my favorite toys to help little ones strengthen their eye contact with adults:
– Look, Look – research indicates that newborns prefer to look at black and white geometrical shapes in their first weeks. This book is perfect for that. It creates the high contrast that is pleasant for infants while helping you create a reading routine from day one!
– Tummy time mirrors – Just about every family I know has this or a variation of this mirror. It’s a perfect toy! It helps them stay engaged while doing tummy time and keeps them working on their eye contact. There is also something so magical about watching a baby get excited when they see the “other baby” reflected in the mirror. It’s the perfect recipe to start “cooing.”
What will you use to help your babies develop their language foundation? Remember to listen to your baby’s first attempts at babbling and respond with delight! Leave a gap when it’s your little one’s turn to make a sound again. You will be amazed at how this simple back and forth can teach our young ones about the pattern of conversation. Follow your baby’s leads and have fun with it.
The best thing you can do to teach baby Spanish is to play with them! They can learn to imitate you and ultimately get ready to talk.