Our babes are having to learn not only what objects are, but the word we use to describe those objects, and what they are used for. They have to learn about colour, sound, people, animals, inanimate things like houses, furniture, pencils and every other part of the world that surrounds them.
I believe passionately that there are two major ways in which we can help them learn, and have proven my theory over and over.
The first way is to do what nearly all of us do with our children, and that is talk to them. Not at them, but to them. Have conversations with them, even before they can respond with an answer. Don't feel silly asking your 11 month old if she can see the chilli sauce on the supermarket shelf!! From the first day of their lives babies love our voices, particularly mummy's voice as she chats to them, sings to them, whatever she is doing that requires her to speak.
When they point at something, tell them what it is they are showing you, and what you use it for!! It is all sinking in, as tiny ones are like sponges for knowledge! Point things out to baby yourself whether it is a butterfly or a lamp post.
The second way to help them learn their language is by reading to them. Read, read, read. It doesn't matter what it is, or whether you are a good reader yourself. By the time they come to where they can read for themselves, you will be much more accomplished at reading also. Read to them from even the first few weeks, it is not the content of the page, but again it is your voice they respond to.
I have never known of a child who didn't love to have a book read to them. And I have never known a child who was read to who didn't learn to speak early and well. Most of these children started learning to read early as well. But apart from these obvious benefits - cuddling up and reading to your child, and with your child, is immense fun for both of you.
When your toddler asks you for "more book?" you will be so proud of what you have accomplished together. And you will have set the pattern for them that 'learning is fun'.