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Although baby talk may sound quite ridiculous, it turns out this type of communication may be critical to a baby’s development. Just because your baby cannot talk back, does not mean you shouldn’t be talking to him. Baby talk, also called infant-directed speech, is identifiable by its high pitch and emotive tone. It sounds like a singsong tone voice and it includes exaggerated facial expressions. This type of speech also tends to be repetitive, slow, full of simple statements, and exaggerates the pronunciation of vowels. These characteristics serve to capture a baby’s attention, as well as make speech easier to understand and easier to figure out the emotions behind the words. Research has shown that babies actually prefer this type of speech and will pay much more attention to you when you speak in this way. Different research has also found that even adults are better able to understand a foreign language when it is spoken with infant-directed speech. This research highlights that baby talk really is important in order for your baby to start understanding language. This type of speech is essential to babies’ language development and helps them gain key language skills at very important points of brain development. Talking to your baby teaches him communication skills at a young age, which is correlated with developing good reading, writing, and interpersonal skills later. Baby talk teaches your baby the structure and rhythm of language, while also helping him remember words and learn the connection between words. Experts advise you start talking to your baby from day one in order to maximize language development.
Here are a few ways to make the most of baby talk.
- Smile and Pay Attention- Get close to your baby and make eye contact while talking, so he knows you are paying attention to him. Also smile and make lively facial expressions.
- Use Real Words- Using nonsense baby words does not help your baby learn anything.
- Teach New Words- Make sure you name items your baby comes in contact with, for example name all the food you feed him. Also, you can keep a running commentary of everything going on as you interact with your baby. This can really help when you aren’t sure what to talk about.
- Mirror Your Baby- Imitate your baby’s facial expressions, actions, and noises. You can also repeat your baby’s babble by turning it into a real word. This will help your baby begin to recognize which sounds form words.
- Talk Often to Your Baby- The more often you talk to your baby, the more your baby learns.
- Rhymes and Games-Nursery rhymes and games both provide easy ways for you baby to learn and understand language.
- Sing Songs or Play Music- Music makes words easier to remember, so songs are a great way to teach your baby language.
- Read Bedtime Stories- This will help nurture a love of reading while also teaching language skills.