Talking to your baby is an important way to help him/her grow. It promotes communication and language development. It also supports social and emotional development.
Even before your baby starts to talk, he/she communicates with you through facial expressions, body language and crying. It is important to respond to your child’s signals. This lets your baby know that you are listening and that he/she can communicate to have his/her needs met. Talk with your baby about what he/she may feel or may need from you. For example, when your baby cries, you can say, “You’re crying. Are you hungry?”
Talking to your baby when you feed him/her is also important, whether an infant breastfeeds or bottle feeds. During these times, your baby begins to understand the world through tasting milk and taking in your familiar smell, face, and voice.
Newborns may need to be fed every two hours or more often. These are all opportunities to hold, speak to and interact with your newborn. Research shows this adult-child interaction promotes communication and language development. Babies learn to talk at an earlier age when their parents talk to them, and they also learn more words.
Here are some tips for talking to your baby:
- Speak more slowly than you would to an adult.
- Say some words softly, and others in a more excited way.
- Use a soft voice and higher pitch, sometimes called parentese, to let your baby know you are speaking just to him/her.
- Play a variety of music and sing along.
- Use a few words or short sentences and repeat these over and over.
- Call your baby’s name.
- Say things that make your baby smile and laugh.
For more information about Help Me Grow or to refer a child for screening, visit helpmegrowmn.org.
Portions of this content, developed by Help Me Grow Minnesota, may have previously appeared elsewhere.