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Whilst it might seem strange chatting to your baby when it can’t respond with anything more than a gurgle, talking to it from early on can help it in so many ways.
Not only can it prompt its language development, it can also provide comfort and help you share a giggle. So, don’t be afraid to get stuck in.
Here are a few tips to get you babbling to your baby:
Chatting through what you are doing with your baby can not only provide reassurance through use of a comforting tone of voice, but also help them to start to associate specific words with specific objects and activities.
Even though your baby won’t have a clue what you are talking about at first, it is surprising how weeks and weeks of repetition can gradually bring your little one to an understanding of those most important of human words like ‘cuddle’ and ‘toy’.
Adding plenty of questions to your chatter will also help them become aware that they too can speak with meaning and ultimately start asking for what they want.
Start by answering your own questions to help your baby learn useful words through repetition. For example, ‘Is that daddy in his car? Yes, it is daddy in his car’.
Don’t be over-anxious if your little one isn’t as fluent as Shakespeare within a matter of weeks. One day they will respond of their own accord and that moment will be magical. In the meantime, just pause and give them the chance to respond, then provide the answer until they beat you to it.
Remember that language is a two-way conversation even in a foreign tongue. If your baby coos or makes other vocal sounds, respond with the same noises and give them a smile of encouragement.
It tells them that they are sending out a message that can be, and is being, responded to; something that will make them want to develop those communication skills even more.
Adults have spent a long time learning to speak fluently, so it can be easy to forget what a huge task it is to learn a completely new language. Help your baby by limiting your conversation to simple phrases, with emphasis on key words, such a ‘Tommy’s nose’ or ‘nappy time now’.
Also, try to avoid using pronouns like ‘I’ and ‘we’, which can be hard for a baby to understand. Stick to obvious names for yourself and others, such as ‘grandma’, ‘doggy’ and ‘uncle John’.
Of course, simple names and words will be easiest for your baby to say as well and hearing your baby’s first attempts at these words will be as endearing as it is astounding.
There is nothing in the rule book that says you can only speak words to your baby. Singing popular baby songs – or even making up your own – can be very calming to a fractious baby.
On the other hand, a happy song combined with fun facial expressions and hand gestures can be a source of so much delight that your little one will probably want you to repeat it again and again – in fact, possibly several hundred times.
You don’t need to chatter to your baby all the time and they will certainly let you know when they are too tired to focus on your nattering any more.
That said, sometimes a sleepy baby will enjoy the sound of you reading aloud, even when they have no idea about what you are reading. Get the tone and pace right and you can find that even an article in the Financial Times or a recap on tomorrow’s shopping list can prove very soporific for your little one.
Looking for more tips for caring for baby?
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