Talking to Your Baby: An Important Learning Tool

The first sound that a baby recognizes is his mother’s voice. In the womb, it is the sound that is most frequently and easily heard. From birth, a newborn will respond readily to this familiar sound, and it has the power to soothe, comfort, and calm. As the baby grows, both parents’ voices also have the power to teach. Talking to your baby is the best and easiest way to encourage his language development.

Why Talking Matters

For most parents, talking to their baby comes naturally. Greeting him in the morning, encouraging him at new tasks, and even holding one-sided conversations are all things parents do without thinking. Eventually, the baby starts to talk back, first with simple sounds and then with more complex vowels and consonant combinations that will eventually become words. What most parents don’t realize is just how much impact they are having on baby’s language development, just by talking to him every day.

The Truth about Baby Talk

While you might feel a little silly using baby talk with your infant, it actually helps your child to learn language if it’s done the right way. You may have heard that using baby talk can be detrimental to language development. The truth is that it really depends on what you mean by the term “baby talk”. Some parts of what we know as baby talk are good for language development, and others are not.

It’s important when talking to your baby to use the proper words for things, so that he can learn them. Your baby may call his bottle a “baba”, but although it may be cute, you should continue to respond with the correct word to encourage him to learn it. It isn’t necessary to correct the improper pronunciation, but be sure that your child hears it pronounced correctly. When it comes to sentences, keep it simple or it will be difficult for an infant to pick up the words. Use short sentences with fewer words, and don’t say more than you need to at once.

When you hear the term baby talk, you probably think of speaking in a very sing-song cadence with a pitch that rises and falls. It may seem instinctive, but there’s good science behind it. Research shows that babies respond well to this tone, much better than monotone speech, and learn to recognize words better.

Labeling and Learning

The concept of pointing out and labeling objects when talking to babies isn’t a new one. Parents have been doing it since the birth of language. But recent research shows that there is a new dimension that can really help your child to pick up new words. In their recent bestseller NutureShock authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman reveal the concept of “motionese”. It’s a simple idea – just move each object around in the air while you name it, drawing her attention and keeping her focused on that object. This easy to use tip will help your baby pick up new words faster.

The authors of NutureShock also share research supporting the theory that how much you talk to your baby is just as important as what you say. The more you speak to her, the quicker language will develop. Furthermore, how much you respond to your baby’s vocalizations is important too! Respond to her attempts to communicate with you as much as you possibly can, and you will see, or rather hear, the results.

Talking to your baby is the most important tool any parent has to teach language and improve communication. With a basic understanding of what works and why, parents can maximize the effect of every spoken word.

Leave a Reply