Best Way to Help Your Baby Learn to Talk

Hearing your baby’s coos and gurgles turn into real words is a major thrill for you and a huge milestone for her. Learning to talk helps her discover more about the world around her, as well as bringing her closer to you. And while language learning is inbuilt – babies are natural communicators – the part you can play is crucial. With your help your baby discovers that, not only is talking important, it’s fun too.

What to expect

From six months onwards your baby will start to make an incredible range of sounds and over the following months her happy babbling will start to resemble more and more the pattern, tone, and pitch of adult speech.

Baby Learn to Talk Best Way to Help Your Baby Learn to Talk

By the end of this year some babies may even be saying their first “words”, such as “gog” for dog, or “dat” for cat. Howcver, most children won’t master all their spoken consonants until they are three or four years old, and some not until later.

Don’t be surprised if after getting off to a flying start, your baby doesn’t learn any more new words for a while, it can take up to three or four months after their first few spoken words for babies to acquire many more words. This may be especially true if, at the same time as learning to talk, your baby is busy trying to master other skills such as walking.

Developing at different rates

If your baby has older brothers or sisters, you may find that she learns to talk later than your other children did. First children often do best since they have lots of one-to-one attention: mum and dad have more time to encourage and listen to them. And although second or third children might hear lots of chat going on around them, they may have little chance to practise their own talking – especially if their siblings try to translate for them! For this reason it is important to make special time alone for you and your baby.

Ways to help

Every time you talk to your baby she’ll be soaking up new information about language, and if you talk in a way that makes it easier for her to listen and learn then you’ll make the most of your time together.

  •    Chat away. Whatever you are doing with your baby, one of the best ways of helping her speech improve is by talking to her about your activity. Whether it is cooking her meal or changing her nappy, describe and show her what you are doing.
  •    Give her a chance to respond. Conversation is a two-way process and your baby will love taking turns with you, so remember to pause and wail for her “reply” when you are talking to her.
  •   Keep it simple. Use short, simple sentences and try not to speak too fast. Your baby needs time to understand what you are saying and will miss anything that you say at speed.
  •    Use lots of expression and emphasis. This will add interest for your baby, especially if you exaggerate your expression sometimes for fun and use humour.
  •    Be consistent. Try to use the same words for the same objects – using “beaker” one- day and “cup” the next will only confuse her.
  •    Help her listen. Your baby learns to listen better if she has no distractions, so cut out any background noise.
  •    Follow her lead. When you see your baby looking with interest at something or pointing, tell her what it is. At this age she’s fascinated by lots of even/day objects such as the kettle or washing machine.
Baby Learn to talk 1 Best Way to Help Your Baby Learn to Talk
  • Repeat correctly. If she has begun to say sounds such as “wa-wa” for water or “nana” for banana, build her confidence by using the correct word (“Would you like some water?” or “Here’s your banana”) to show her that you know what she’s saying. Eventually she’ll learn from you how to say the word correctly.
  •  Play games together. Action songs, peekaboo, and clapping games are great fun for your baby – she’ll also love anticipating what comes next and the repetition will help her learn familiar words.

First books

Your baby may be too young to concentrate on proper stories but looking at books together is invaluable for helping her communication skills. Try to find time every day for sitting and reading quietly together. Point at the pictures to encourage your baby to took too. Use lots of emphasis and exclamation to hold her attention.

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