Feel silly talking to your newborn? You shouldn’t. “Exposure to intonational patterns, as well as the repetition of common words, helps infants learn to communicate,” says Mellisa Essenburg, M.S., C.C.C.-S.L.P., a speech pathologist in San Diego. Chatting with your baby won’t help her talk sooner, but it will support her ability to say words when she’s developmentally ready (around 1 year). It’s also a great way to bond with your baby from Day One. Convinced?
Here are some fun ways to help your child develop the gift of gab:
Imitate your baby’s cooing and babbling.
Use lots of intonation to encourage her to expand her own sounds. Also blow “raspberries” and make motorboat noises; these are speech-stimulating sounds.
Repeat words often.
Those that begin with “m” or “b” are easiest for your baby to imitate.
Read to your baby often.
“Babies need to hear lots of language,” says Caroline Blakemore, a co-author of the 2006 book Baby Read-Aloud Basics. “Listening is a stage of literacy.”
Don’t plunk your baby in front of the TV.
This does nothing for her speech development. Your baby learns to talk not just from hearing and copying your words, but also from the eye contact, touch and emotional responses you share.