From the moment they’re born, babies want and need to communicate. With every cry, smile and babble, they’re looking for a response – a cuddle, a smile back or a few encouraging words to show you’re listening.
Hearing lots of different words helps babies’ brains to grow and develop. The more words a baby hears the better they’ll be at communicating as they grow.
Here’s our top tips for talking with your baby:
1. It’s never too early to start
Start talking with your baby as soon as they’re born. You can even talk to them when they're still in your womb. Your unborn baby will hear its very first sounds around 18 weeks of pregnancy. By week 25 or 26, babies in the womb have been shown to respond to voices and noise. The most significant sound your baby hears in the womb is your voice. Talk about your world; what you’re doing, where you’re going and what you’re going to see.
2. Make time every day to read
Reading to your child is so important. It’s one of the easiest and best things you can do to help them learn. Books can be full of magic and the words, tone and rhythm used are often more complex than words we use in everyday conversation.
3. Talk anywhere
Take any opportunity to talk with your baby – in the car, at the supermarket or on the bus. Studies have shown that children who can use up to 6000 words by the time they get to school have a significant advantage.
4. Use a variety of words
We often find ourselves using simple language with young kids – lots of instructions such as ‘don’t do that’ or ‘find your socks’. Try to use a mix of simple and complex words, and explain the meaning of the words you use.
5. Have two-way conversations
Conversations that go back and forth, even if you’re only responding to some babbling or one or two words, helps to build communication pathways in your child’s brain. It also helps to build their social skills, learning how and when to appropriately respond to what someone is saying.
Your baby doesn’t care if you can’t carry a tune. Sing them nursery rhymes, the alphabet or even your favourite song. Turn on the radio and let them listen to a range of different voices.
7. Make up stories
Bored of the usual bedtime books? Try making up a story; it can be about anything. Use expressions and different voices to make the story fun.
Tell them stories about when you were growing up or stories from different generations that you grew up listening to.