Every parent dreams of the day their child says Mama or Dada, so it’s understandable when it’s frustrating to parents when this takes some time to occur. I often have some parents complain that their child isn’t saying Mama or Dada, or that their child said the other name first and I have my answers for both! If a child says “Mama” first, I usually explain to the Dad that “m” is a visible sound and therefore easier for the child to produce. If the Mom is wondering why “Dada” came out first, I usually explain that as the child’s lead teacher and model of all language- Mom is saying “DADA” more so therefore the child is hearing “Dada” more! More on that below.
In honor of Mother’s Day approaching, we’re sharing a few tips on helping your child say “Mama!” So listen up, Mamas!
1. Call yourself Mama more! You probably don’t even realize how infrequently you refer to yourself around your child. Children need repeated exposure to words (tied to objects/people/visible representation) to learn them! It may sound unnatural but if your child is not saying Mama yet, give it a try!
2. Make a Mama- Movie! Kids these days can scroll through an IPhone before they learn how to stack blocks, so let’s take advantage of that skill. As a center-based speech therapist, Mama is not always present. I’ve asked parents to send me quick videos of them saying “MAMA!” using an exaggerated facial expression and affect and then turned this into a Mama-Movie game! I would use it in my session by asking the child “Do you want to see Mama?” then showing them the video and excitedly repeating “MAMA!” after the video clip ends. I would hold the iPhone up so the child could see the video-still and say “Mama?” and wait for the child to imitate an approximation, produce “m” sound or even just point (Depending on child)
3. Make a Mama-Book! Run out to CVS and buy a 1.99 flimsy plastic photo album and take some selfies to fill the pages! Treat this album as a Mama-Book and look at it with your child labeling yourself as “Mama!” on each page. You can throw in some “Where’s Mama?” or “Show me Mama!” and encourage your child to point to the page in order to make it initially interactive.
4. The Ultimate Mama Peekaboo This game is easier when your child is still in a crib and/or highchair. Try this with your therapist or husband, or other family member and very obviously leave the room or hide out of view from your child. Have the therapist/family member very exaggeratedly call “MAMA!” and then peek-a-boo back into the room or your child’s view saying MAMA!!!! Make it fun. Super fun. Throw in some tickles and kisses!
Happy Mother's Day, Mama's!
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