How to do this?
Talking to your baby, right from the day he is born, is said to encourage him to communicate and respond. Simple activities like singing poems or telling stories can improve his language skills. As moms, it couldn’t be soon enough to hear our babies talk and we wait for this moment with bated breath. So, is there more you can do to make your baby start speaking earlier? YES!
Babies start life off with crying, cooing and smiling — in the initial months after birth, these are their only ways of communication. However, most children soon start gurgling and babbling too, rapidly moving on to sounds such as ma-ma and pa-pa in their first year. Within no time they also learn to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ by nodding their head in conformity and disagreement!
Be that as it may, each child is unique and grows at his own steady pace. It is unhealthy to worry after comparing your child’s development with that of others, without taking into account that all kids have different body types, environment, and pace of growth. So, if your little one has not uttered a single word while his peer has started showing some early signs of talking, it really is fine. But, on the other hand, that shouldn’t stop you from doing what you can to help your baby reach the talking milestone earlier! Turns out, child development experts have pointed out two things that can make your baby an early talker!
#1: Speak To Your Baby in ‘Motherese’, Not Baby Talk
Yes, the first and best thing you can do to raise an early talker is to learn to speak a new tongue yourself! No, you don’t have to learn a new language. When a mother speaks in “Motherese”, it is mostly exaggerated, slower, and more musical than regular talking. This helps a baby grasp the language more easily. Experts recommend that in this way of speaking, parents should use well-formed, elongated consonants and vowel sounds. For example, the words may be stretched to say ‘heellooo baaabyy’ instead of ‘Hello Baby’.
Why this works is simple: a newborn baby is best inclined toward the language in the environment around him. He obviously has an interest in his mother’s language and will pay close attention to what his mother speaks. Her tone, her emphasis, and the pitch she uses are all things babies hold on to. The more exposure they have to Motherese, the likelier they are to start talking themselves due to the strong connection formed in their brains between sounds, words and meanings.
“Although it sounds odd to us, babies really love listening to motherese even more than adult speech. It holds their attention better and the speech sounds clearer to them. So we know the more motherese the baby hears, the better the language development.”
How to do this: This can be really simple, such as telling them that ‘I am taking you in my arms’ each time you pick them up from the crib. Or sharing what you did during the day. Or explaining to them what you are doing while sitting with them. All this has been proven to activate their communication cells. The underlying idea is to help their brain understand more words, and talking to them during routine activities like bathing, dressing them up and feeding does exactly this. Plus, it not only helps in developing their language skills but also helps in building a trusting relationship and strong bond between you and your child.
There is a constant debate among experts on whether Motherese speeds up verbal development or not. Some people may find it extremely annoying and some even believe it harms a child’s speech. But the truth is different. According to research, motherese is extremely beneficial and the best way to get your baby start talking early. It is critical that you distinguish Motherese from baby talk, as the latter is harmful!
#2: Look Your Baby in the Eye When Reciting Nursery Rhymes
The second most effective thing that researchers have found to improve talking in babies is nursery rhymes. As per the findings, baby’s brains are especially attuned to nursery rhymes and the sounds and words they hear in them form long-lasting connections in their brains. These connections in turn help them to start talking earlier as they understand how to express themselves through such sounds and words. But here too, the role of the mother is very important. While any member of the family can sing rhymes to the baby, things are extra special when mom does it. It has been seen that moms who sang nursery rhymes looking directly at their babies held their attention a lot better than those who looked away, even for a moment.
How to do this: It is likely that you have already started doing this by telling stories, singing nursery rhymes, or reading from picture books. You may also point out different things by taking their names to help your baby identify and pronounce different words and sounds. However, do not focus on correcting his pronunciation at this point. Listen to them attentively by maintaining eye contact and praise the efforts they are putting in to speak new words. Respond to their talk by nodding your head, clapping your hands, and smiling. Also repeat what they are saying to encourage them further.
Source 1, 2 Babies are enthusiastic and possess an inbuilt zest for learning to talk. They are as eager to learn and develop language as you are to teach them! So, if your baby has started gabbling and gurgling and is making attempts to put different sounds together, he is on the right track. However, if your baby doesn’t gabble or show interest in your conversation even after you’ve tried these tricks, and he has crossed his first birthday, you should consider consulting your paediatrician.
Happy talky-talk with your little darling!
Originally published at www.worldofmoms.com.