Children depend on their parents, and caregivers, for proper speech development. During those first few years, while speech patterns are being developed, what you do and say will directly affect your child. While early communication and care can't guarantee that your child won't develop speech problems later, it can reduce reduce the chances. Here are three steps you can take to help ensure proper speech development.

Stay on Top of Ear Infections

You might think that ear infections would have little to do with speech development, but that's not correct. Frequent ear infections during early childhood can lead to hearing problems, and even hearing loss. Not only that but during bouts of ear infections, hearing can be interrupted, which can make it difficult for children to hear words properly. That can lead to little ones learning how to pronounce words and sounds improperly. To help protect your child's developing speech, be sure to stay on top of ear infections. As soon as your child shows signs of an ear infection – fever, ear pain, ear-tugging – you should have them seen by their pediatrician.

Read to Your Child

Children learn to develop speech through the words that they hear. One way to help your little ones develop proper speech patterns, you should read to them as often as possible. Begin and end each day with at least one short story. Make sure the story is lively and inviting, so that your child will want to sit and listen. It's also a good idea to choose stories with lots of pictures so that your child can see the word and the picture that goes with it.

Watch Your Own Communication

While your child is developing their own speech, they'll be learning sounds and pronunciation from you. When you speak to your child, be sure to pronounce your words clearly. It's also important that you speak to your child often throughout the day. You can begin this before your child even begins forming words by talking about everything your doing. When you change their diapers, explain what you're doing. Tell them when it's bath time, or why you're putting their pajamas on them. As you hold conversations with your little one, they'll be listening to the things you're saying, and committing those sounds to memory.

Speech development begins as soon as your child is born. To help your child with their speech development, use the simple tips provided here. If you notice problems with your child's speech development, be sure to consult with a speech pathologist. For more information, contact companies like Eastern Carolina Ear Nose & Throat-Head.