Imitation is not only the sincerest form of flattery, it's also your baby's most important way of learning about the world. From birth, observing and trying to imitate what you say and do serves as her foundation for mastering basic skills and using language. Just by being with her, you act as her first teacher.
Mastering Motor Skills
A baby masters her first simple physical skills by watching you and then doing them over and over again until she gets it right. Banging, clapping, and tapping her head in imitation of what you're doing help develop her coordination and her awareness of her body.
Towards the end of her first year, as her coordination develops, your baby will become increasingly skilled at mimicking your day-to-day activities. She may put a pot on her toy stove or hold a toy telephone to her ear. With her improved dexterity, her next step will be imitating and mastering important self-help skills, like using a spoon.
Before your baby speaks a word, she'll be noticing and trying to copy the particular cadence of your speech. If you listen carefully, her earliest babbling is likely to have a distinctive rhythm that resembles your own way of talking.
Gradually, she will learn that sounds make words that have meanings. By repeatedly pointing to her bottle When you say bottle, your child comes to associate a word with an object. Giving her the chance to watch your lips when you speak will help her learn how to make the sounds herself, too.
Don't limit yourself to baby talk. Even if she doesn't understand what you're saying, your child will become more familiar with the different sounds of words if she hears grown-up language.
Your baby will quickly learn that imitation is a sure crowd-pleaser. When you respond to her toothless grins by smiling back and talking lovingly to her, it reinforces her behavior and she grins all the more. The same goes for talking: when your baby coos at you and you make the same sound back, it becomes a delightful verbal interaction or communication.