Talk, talk and talk…and start early. Many of us mommas start talking to our babies even when they are still inside our wombs. I sure did. But once baby’s out, you’ll want to talk to your baby even though they are just a tiny little newborn. And you may even feel silly doing it or may think it’s pointless because the baby can’t possibly know what you’re saying. You’re right…they have no idea but all that jabbing away you’re doing now can help encourage your baby’s speech development for later. Your baby is absorbing more than you think and will understand what you’re saying long before he’s able to respond. It’s a fact that when babies grow up in a language- rich environment, they naturally learn to speak.
Share story time together. Books automatically get the conversation going. Either you’re reading the words directly as they are written on the page, or making up your own words to go along with the pictures…it doesn’t matter. The point is to read together, increase baby’s vocabulary and explore. You can read anything together, board books, nursery rhymes, touch and feel books, whatever.
Repeat your baby’s name to him or her all the time
Try repeating vowel consonant sounds like da-da, ba-ba, pa-pa, na-na…you get the picture. For example, whenever we’d show Jai a ball we would say “ba-ba…bottle” or “ma-ma…mommy”.
Have conversations with your baby. Newborn babies begin learning the skill of conversation by first, cooing, next, looking at mommy and finally, waiting for a response. Essentially, you’re having a conversation by cooing back and forth at each other. In this way, even the youngest of babies can learn and find comfort in knowing that when they “speak”, someone will reply. Even when your little one babbles something randomly, always make sure to reply. This teaches them that someone cares about what they are saying.
Describe what you’re doing. No matter what you’re doing, when baby’s around just announce it out loud. This always helps me out I’m at loss of words and not sure what to talk about. For instance, I always talk (or sing) to Jai when I’m in the kitchen washing dishes, getting his bottle ready or setting the table for dinner and he’s just hanging in his high chair. It goes something like this…”Mommy’s getting your bottle ready Jai. First, I’m going to get some hot water and then I’ll just pour it into to a cup and put your bottle in there so the milk gets all nice and warm. See, now your bottle’s all ready to go. Are you ready to drink your milk?” (All I have to say is the word milk these days and he goes bananas!! His word for milk is “moo-moo”…he’s totally trying to make the “mmm” sound.)
Describe what baby is doing. Just as you talk out what you’re doing, you’ll want to also explain what your baby is into as well. For example, when Jai’s in the bathtub I always say, “Ohhh, you’re playing with Mr. Ducky?” or “Look! You’re splashing in the warm water!” Exclaiming actions is good to highlight something new that baby is doing.
Be on the lookout for conversational cues. Talking through the daily routine is great but also figure out what your baby’s interested in or excited about at the moment and make that the conversation piece. The other night, Jai was much more interested in my apple than Sophie the giraffe. So I ended up talking about the apple, how it’s a fruit, grows on trees, is bright red and sweet.” This results in more meaningful conversation since you’re focusing on what baby is interested in.
Identify people/objects by their name. For example, don’t just say, “See that or this?” instead, you’d want to say “See that motorcycle drive by fast? What kind of noise did it make? Vrrooom?!!” “Watch Daddy make that silly face!” instead of “Watch him.”
Keep the TV OFF. Right now and ever since he came home…whenever Jai’s awake, the TV is off in our home. It’s too easy to get lost in a show, the news, or whatever is on. Babies benefit the most from back-and-forth social interaction, not a character on TV who doesn’t respond to your little guy’s giggles or frowny face.
Enunciate. Pronounce words slowly and clearly so your little one can really follow your mouth and try to understand you.
Face baby when you’re talking. When you can, you should always face baby so that he can mimic you by watching how you move your mouth, lips, and tongue when you speak.
Let baby speak. Don’t be so quick to interrupt. Let her have time to talk and when she does start, stop what you’re doing (if you can!!) and face her. Baby will love the attention!!
Enjoy chatting it up with your baby!