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Baby Talk: Communicating With Your Baby

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Baby Talk: Talk Often to Your Baby

Babies love to hear you talk -- especially to them, and especially in a warm, happy voice. Babies learn to speak by imitating the sounds they hear around them. So the more you talk to your baby, the faster he will acquire speech and language skills.

  • Many adults use a special tone of voice when talking baby talk -- a high-pitched voice with exaggerated expression. This natural baby talk mimics the female voice, which babies the world over associate with feeding and comfort. Keep in mind that talking "baby talk" won't prevent or delay your infant from learning adult speech later.
  • Engage your baby's listening skills by talking often to him throughout the day, narrating your activities together. Talk as you're feeding, dressing, carrying, and bathing your baby, so he or she begins to associate these sounds of language with everyday objects and activities.
  • Repeat simple words like "mama" and "bottle" often and clearly so your baby begins to hear familiar words and associate them with their meaning.

Baby Talk: How Babies Learn to Talk

Parents often wonder where their child's speech ability is on the learning curve. The timeline for each child varies greatly: Some babies can say a few words at 12 months, but others don't talk until they're 18 months old -- and then spout short sentences.

  • At 1 to 3 months: Babies already love to hear the sound of your voice and may smile, laugh, get quiet, or get excited and wave their arms when you talk or sing to them. Your infant's baby talk usually starts with cooing and gurgling, with some vowel sounds, like "ooh," appearing at around two months.

It's not too early to start reading to your infant. Being read to helps stimulate the developing brain. Many babies are soothed by music, and begin to recognize simple songs by reacting with smiles, gurgles, and waving arms and legs.

  • At 4 to 7 months: Babies now realize that their baby talk has an impact on their parents. They babble more and watch for their parents' reaction. Babies experiment with more sounds and intonations. They begin to raise and lower the pitch of their voices as they babble, just as adults do when asking a question or adding emphasis.
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