Parents should talk to the baby a lot even before birth, and definitely from birth on, in order for the child to develop good social and communication skills. Since the baby hears, listens to and recognizes the voices of his/her parents already inside the womb, hearing familiar voices after being born creates a constant feeling of familiarity and security in the baby.
Babies learn to talk by talking to them, but it can be challenging knowing what to say and how to communicate with them. A few tips and guidance will make talking to your baby easier. Also, do not forget, that quality nutrition ensures health and optimal development.
Tips for talking to your baby
- Your baby learns to reflect your emotions – for example, your baby smiles when you smile. But to make the learning process even better, make sure that this communication is two-way. For example, when your baby smiles first, always smile back. If your baby makes a surprised or curious face, answer with the same expression.
- Talk slow and expressively – To talk with your newborn, it’s best to be very close to them. Speak in shorter sentences and very clearly, in a soft, bright voice. Repeat yourself often. Be very expressive when you speak – raise your eyebrows, open your mouth wide etc. Stretch the vowels!
- Always respond to your baby – Even when you have no idea what your little one is trying to say, make sure you respond. That way he/she learned to communicate.
- Include gestures in the conversation – Children are able to gesture much earlier than saying words. Parents who have shown their child’s expressions will understand their child’s needs earlier and more easily. For example, a child learns to shake his or her head quickly when he or she does not want something and to point out what he or she wants.
What should I talk about?
Tell your baby about everything you do during the day. When feeding your baby, explain to him or her how and what you are cooking, and why it is good for him or her.
Even if the baby is sitting in the chair and you are washing the dishes, talk to the baby at the same time – explain to him/her in simple and natural language what you are doing. For example, “Mom’s washing the dishes right now. I need to use water and a little dishwashing detergent. I’ll let the dishes dry when they are clean. After that, I can take you in my arms again.”
When walking outdoors, describe things to your baby as you are passing by them. For example, point your hand at a tree and say, “A tree. A big tree. A big tree with beautiful green leaves grows by the road.”
Talking to your baby all the time teaches your child to talk, but it also makes them feel safe to hear the voice of their parents.
Observing how you interact with others will also help your child to learn how to speak. By talking in a positive way, your child will learn how to speak positively, the same goes with manners. It is important to keep in mind that babies communicate at different rates, just as they mature physically at different rates. So don’t worry if your baby starts speaking later than you thought, just make sure you keep communicating with them.