Speech and Language Tip: Use lots of sound effects in everyday communication with babies!
I often work on helping kiddos make environmental and animal sounds in my speech-language therapy sessions. Sounds make activities more entertaining and fun. Making sound effects grabs babies attention and interest. Both of which are needed for learning. Sound effects also help babies to remember. This is called auditory memory. Auditory memory is our ability to take in information that is presented out loud, process the information, store it in our memory bank then recall it. It’s good to offer babies lots of sounds to process. You also want to repeat the sounds many times to help babies remember, recall and connect them. For example, when my son sees an automobile, he says “vroom vroom.” Same with a cat and cow. When he sees them, he makes “meow” and “moo moo” sounds. He learned these sounds by hearing them produced when being around the things. Once babies build an association between the sound and the object, then they can focus on making the sound. Another example is sneezing. I’ve always made a big deal out of sneezing by saying “achoo achoo.” Now my son says “choo choo” when I sneeze. Pretend sneezing is a great way to get crying and upset babies out of a funk too. Give it a try! A good time to add some sound effects is when strapping babies into their car seats. You can say “snap and click click.” This will help distract babies a bit if they are not fans of being strapped in, like my son. Also, when dressing little ones say “snap snap snap” or “zzzziiiiiipp” to keep things light and fun all the while you’re working on language development.
Environmental and animal sounds are often some of babies’ first words, because they are easy to make as far as speech muscles and coordination go. Most sound effects have stretched out, open vowels in them. My son started with the “vroom vroom” car sound by rolling his lips and blowing raspberries. When he did it, we responded with lots of praise and he began to associate the sound with automobiles. He started this around nine months of age. Now at sixteen months, he has narrowed it down and only does it when he sees big trucks, motorcycles or bikes. He also likes to say “nuh nuh…nuh nuh…nuh nuh” while pretending to swim his shark. He learned this by hearing and watching us do it. We are currently working on all animal, transportation and letter sounds as the opportunities present themselves, saying “mmmm” when smelling things and “mwah” when giving kisses. We are going to an airport observation park today and I’m super excited to make plane sounds. It’s important to offer lots of opportunities for littles to hear and make various sounds. Animal and letter magnets on our fridge get my son going several times a day.
“Wee, woo woo, stomp stomp, crunch crunch, quack quack”
Reading books together is a great time to make sound effects. You can incorporate sounds into most any book, but ones with animals and modes of transportation are particularly good. The following is a list of my son’s favorite sound effect books in our collection.
Llama Llama Zippity-Zoom
Mr. Brown Can MOO! Can You? by Dr. Seuss
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin and Eric Carle
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
Toot Toot Beep Beep by Emma Garcia
Moo, Baa, LaLaLa by Sandra Boynton
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
It’s never to early to add sounds and noises when you are communicating with babies. They are remembering every new sound they hear right from the very beginning. Auditory memory plays a huge role in developing communication skills. I challenge you to work babies’ auditory memories by giving them lots of different sounds to process, remember and make! Are there any sound books you recommend? Please share!