Teaching a Baby New Words

In our What are a Baby’s Most Common First Words? article, we introduced readers to the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories (CDIs), the product of 30 years of research done to better understand language acquisition. The CDIs list early words in the order in which a child understands and later says them.

Also in that article was a mention of ParentPal’s eWords feature that contains 260 words from the CDIs.

For those wondering how eWords can help parents help their child with language acquisition, we’ve provided this example. Note, too, that even if you don’t have ParentPal, you still can use this approach when introducing your little one to new words.



Using a children’s picture dictionary or eWords, show a collection of images and ask, “What would you like to explore today?” In this example, let’s suppose the child pointed to the dog picture. You might respond by saying, “Okay, let’s find out more about dogs!”


Start by saying something like, “Some dogs are big and other dogs are small. Dog fur comes in many different colors.” Point out their differences as you describe the dogs.



“Dogs have ears, eyes, and a nose, just like you!”



“Dogs can help people and be their friend.”



“Can you point to the dog?”



“Dogs love to run and play in the park. They also can bark!”


The exploration of new words using pictures and sounds adds to a broader understanding of a word’s meaning. This also helps to reduce misconceptions. Along the way, meaningful discussions between a parent and their child help to build early language and language-related skills.