By: Megan Crenshaw, M.A., CF-SLP
There are many studies that have been conducted on the many benefits that reading can provide to toddlers in terms of language and speech development. Have you ever considered if simply talking to your child can do the same? Yes, talking!
Playing “patty cake” or “peek-a-boo,” singing nursery rhymes, and imitating the same coos and babbles your baby makes is fun, but also plays a major role in their development.
Babies are drawn to the high-pitched, exaggerated sounds and noises that are often described as “baby talk.” This baby talk ignites synapses, or connections, in your toddler’s brain that allow them to process and absorb language information. These connections get stronger the more words they hear and the more language input they receive. According to “How to Talk to Your Baby” from WebMD, toddlers who are exposed to more baby talk know more words by age two than their peers (2018).
You may be thinking, “My baby is only three months old. He can’t even talk yet.” That may be true, but the more words a child is exposed to and hears, the better prepared they are once they begin school. They will have a bigger vocabulary, become an earlier reader and perform better on tests than their peers (Shrier, 2017).
There are a few easy tips to try in order to implement baby talk into your toddler’s daily routine:
Pay attention to what your child is trying to say. Maintain eye contact and respond when your infant produces coos, babbles, or cries. This shows that you care about what your baby is communicating to you and will help foster a strong relationship with your child as they get older.
Talk often to your child. As we learned earlier, this will provide great benefits.
Do not interrupt when your child makes any type of sound or vocalization. Listening is a key component to effective baby talk.
Take turns during the conversation. It is important that back and forth communication is taking place. Do not be the only one speaking. Give your child time to respond to allow them to feel important to the discussion.
Use descriptive words when you talk. Comment on things that take place throughout the daily routine, such as when your child receives a diaper change or during feeding time. For example, while you are making a bottle, you could say, “Ok, it’s time to eat. Let’s get your bottle. Look at the milk. It’s white. Now drink, drink, drink.” This may seem silly, but the more words the better. Right?
Lastly, make sure to set aside a certain time of the day that is dedicated to just you and your infant. Baby talk is meant to be one-on-one, with no other distractions present.
Incorporating these six, simple steps will provide many great memories and experiences for you and your toddler to share for a lifetime. Now, go start talking!
For more information on baby talk, check out these helpful resources: