Baby Talking 101

Babies love to talk! And if you notice they begin communicating with you in the first year itself. From the first smiles, cooing, gurgling and crying, to using syllables strung together like a-ba, ga-ba, ap-a – they’re all means of communicating with you, also known as baby talk. Babies initially use these word-like sounds, if you must, which later evolve into basic words. The first year is important to encourage communicating skills in your baby by talking to him, interacting with him, singing, and reading to your precious one.

Keep these pointers in mind when your baby communicates

Communication at an early stage is encouraged and crucial because early speech and language is related to effective development of reading, writing and interpersonal skills. So, what are the things you can do to teach your baby to talk?

Here’s a guide of what you can do from an early stage to promote listening and speaking successfully:

Pay attention and smile

Babies are extremely observant. Even before your smarty pants begins to talk, they are able to get a general sense of what you are saying. And moreover, they can gauge the emotion you depict. So, smile at your baby, always. Pay attention to him when your baby babbles, look at him instead of being distracted elsewhere or talking to someone else. These small steps will give him the basic understanding that communication is a two-way street.

Mimic your baby

Babies love it when you respond to them in the same manner that they communicate. Imitating your little one’s baby babbling will help him understand communicating means being responsive. It can sometimes be funny or confusing, but try to respond even if, at times, you don’t know what your baby is trying to say. Mimicking your facial expressions will help him be more expressive when baby begins to talk.

Talk often

Talking to your baby in warm, happy and enthusiastic tones will help them learn to speak faster. And that’s how babies learn to speak – by imitating the sounds they hear. Hence, talking to them frequently, and in a happy voice will encourage them talk. Also, repeating simple words with not more than two syllables will be easier for them to repeat, thus boosting their confidence to speak.

Speech timeline

Each baby is unique, and not all speak at the time we expect them to. It’s important to be patient and allow your baby the time to form their communication skills and not fret about timelines. However, having said that, it is also crucial to know an approximate timeline of when a baby starts talking. Extreme delays can be related to other problems that may or may not be serious. So, to not let you sink in another tension puddle, here is a rough idea of what stage your baby must ideally be in. However, we suggest to not be a stickler about it and provide some leeway.

  • Six weeks to three months: cooing and gurgling

  • Four to five months: syllables strung together to make sounds such as a-ga, a-ba, a-pa

  • Six months: repetitive consonants such as pa-pa-pa-pa-pa or da-da-da-da-da

  • Eight months: double consonants without knowing the meaning of them

  • Eight to eighteen months: they should be able to associate certain words or word-sounds with meaning like calling a dog ba, or pa for daddy

What can you do to encourage your baby to talk?

Apart from the pointers mentioned earlier, here are a few more tips to motivate your baby to talk:

  • Maintain eye contact whenever baby babbles. This is his way of having a conversation, and you paying attention, looking at him, and smiling will encourage him to talk more.

  • Talk about your baby’s toys. Introduce a dialogue, talk about characteristics of the toy that are striking enough for him to take notice and associate with. For example if he has a stuffed animal, say a dog, give it a name, talk about its colours, the eyes, nose, tongue teeth that he can then compare with his own.

  • If you notice him making the same sound you are, do it again, and again, and again. It may seem silly and useless to you but to your baby it is an incredibly fun thing! It will also teach baby that making sounds is not just play, it is also a way of communicating.

  • Another way of teaching baby to talk is by asking questions, and then answering them yourself. Yes, it seems tiring and you may find it funny or silly, but this question-answer practice shows your baby that conversing is a two-way street.

  • Turn his attention to noises you hear. If the dog is barking, or the whistle of the cooker is blowing, point to that particular direction and talk about that sound. Introducing the sound and talking about it, will help him associate that sound with the words you use to talk or describe.

  • Read to your baby, a lot. It could be nursery rhymes, illustrated books, non-illustrated story books, the newspaper, a novel from your nightstand, any reading material. It’s a great way of introducing your baby to new words.

Most parents worry about many things concerning their child’s speech – that he is not saying any words, that he babbles a lot, that he doesn’t yet form basic words, that you are responding to his babble with babble instead of real words, that he’s of a particular age and cannot form a sentence yet, the list can go on. There’s nothing to worry about though. Babbles are essentially the foundation to your baby comprehending language, and it’s these babble words that will transform into basic words. Ensure that you are talking and communicating with your baby and eventually, he will form his own words and sentences. Each child is unique and has his own path to walk. Don’t rush, be patient, encouraging, and enjoy the moments you have now.

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