Have you ever noticed when someone talks to a baby? Some tend to use silly, high-pitched and cutesy singsong speech or “baby talk” to encourage babies to talk in the attempt to assist them to learn how to speak up, while other people don’t even bother to talk to babies at all because they do not expect them to understand.
However, recent research studies have shown that it is very important for babies to hear the sounds of language in order to learn how to speak. Today, we will help you become informed about the benefits of teaching your baby to talk in his early years, and some useful and proper ways to do it.
Benefits of Teaching Your Baby to Talk in His Early Years
According to the book “Teach Baby to Talk” by Sandra Jean Smith, the implications of the importance of talking to babies from day one is reinforced by the recent research of Dr. Sheila Degotardi from the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquaire University New South Wales. She explores the idea that talking to your baby has wide benefits to all aspects of your baby’s emotional, intellectual, and psychological development.
Based on her article entitled “Child Development: It’s All in the Mind,” baby talk can easily be dismissed as purposeless rambling. However, a Macquaire University research into children’s theory of mind supports the notion that communicating with your baby right from birth has positive long-term developmental consequences.
Moreover, Dr. Sheila’s research focused on the interactions between mothers and their infants in order to discover whether treating infants in certain ways can influence the process of theory-of-mind development. She explained that theory of mind explores how a child’s thinking, socialization, and empathy with others are developed through speech.
She found that the children whose mothers were more mind and psychological oriented, and interact with their babies through adult speech and complex sentences, had a higher level of theory-of-mind development than children of less “psychologically oriented” mothers. So, talking to your baby while he/she is still inside your womb and after birth increases his/her speech development.
You may not believe it, but your baby always listens to you before he is born.
Ways to Encourage Your Baby to Talk
Research suggests that language and communication begin to occur in the first days of life. The newborn will first recognize his/her mother’s voice and other sounds in his/her environment. As they grow, infants’ brains begin to distinguish the speech sounds which are the building blocks for creating words.
It is certain that children are learning a lot, and proving it, in their first year of life. In this section, we are glad to provide you some useful and proper ways to encourage your baby to talk with ease and enhance his/her speech and language development.
- While you are pregnant with your baby, have an intimate and constant conversation with him/her. Gently touch and rub your belly as you lovingly talk to your child. This helps your baby feel attached to you and enhances his/her hearing skills.
- On her first day after birth, speak to your baby as if he/she knows and understands every word you say. Maintain eye contact with your baby.
- Use real, meaningful speech in short sentences, not noises or sounds. No goo-goo ga-ga talk!
- Leave a short pause between sentences.
- Ask questions as if your infant could and eventually will answer you about how he feels, what he would like to eat and drink, what to wear and many more to boost the development of language patterning deep within the child’s brain.
- Expose your baby to songs, nursery rhymes, and stories every day. Your baby will learn and improve his speech and language development when you incorporate music in teaching him to talk.
- Read some children’s storybooks to him while he/she is awake and when you put him/her to sleep.
- When choosing childcare for your baby it is vital that your baby is going to be able to have a close connection with one caregiver and the program of the childcare situation will invest the time needed to develop the kind of language stimulation.
Infant-directed or Adult-directed speech?
What is better for babies in their speech and language learning – infant-directed or adult-directed speech? Some may think that infant-directed speech or baby talk is bad for babies as they conclude that it might retard their development.
To the contrary, based on the book “How Babies Talk”, there is evidence that baby talk helps babies make discriminations between sounds and words. Since baby talk exaggerates sounds, babies seem to find it easier to hear the differences. So, baby talk helps baby figure out how the vowels in their language work.
On the other hand, adult-directed speech may possibly contain full of errors, interruptions and false starts. Topics change all over the place, and there are no exaggerated pronunciation, unlike in baby talk, to make the words stand out in any particular way. But, you can talk with your baby in your normal speech slowly to help him talk. Thus, it’s up to you whether you will use baby talk or your usual speech to your baby as long as you consistently converse with him/her.
Therefore, to further enhance your baby’s speech and linguistic capabilities, always be by his or her side to support in his or her speech growth and development through your everyday parenting routines. Enjoy the ride as babies can be very adorable as they gaze into our faces, mimic us, and analyze the sounds that come out of our mouths. It is amazing to observe the ways babies respond to language and the cute ways they interact during conversations.