Affirm to Support Turns

​ Show Your Child That His or Her Ideas Are Important

Tiny babies make lots of funny sounds. It is not always clear how to answer. As a parent, you have many ways of showing your baby approval and support:

  • You can keep your eyes on your baby while the two of you communicate.
  • You can smile and nod.
  • You can let your face show the same feeling that your baby is showing.
  • You can add small words, such as "yes," or "okay" to your response.
  • You can wait expectantly for more communication.

When Babies and Toddlers are Difficult to Understand

Babies and toddlers are not always easy to understand. When they begin to say or sign words (often around 12 months of age), their early attempts can change a lot.​

Toddlers may use jargon - a mix of jibberish and a word attempt or two. Their early signs may be “baby signs” that are different from the sign you know. Parents can still affirm and keep the conversation going. ​

Example #1: Encourage Babbling

A baby makes sounds and then looks at Daddy. Daddy smiles and answers. He says, "Yeah, is that right? Uh-huh. What else do you think?" He also copies her. All of this encourages her to take a turn.

This baby really likes to babble. Her dad encourages her by smiling, copying her, and making positive comments. They are having fun with communication.

Example #2: Stretch the Ideas

A tot tries to say or sign, "bee." Mom smiles and then she stretches his idea, saying, "Is that the bumble bee?" She gives him chances to practice new words and signs too.

A little boy “signs” to his bear. It looks like he is making a sentence in sign, but it is unclear. Mom shows interest and comments, “You are signing to your bear. Your bear says, ‘Hi, Tommy’!”

Example #3: Interact and Create Conversation

A little girl "talks" on the phone, but she is producing jargon. It sounds like she is talking, but the words are hard to understand.

Her mother shows interest, and then picks up on the one word she follows (baby). She says, "Oh, did you see the baby?"  Then she invites her toddler to go back to the conversation, "Say hello to grandma."