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Baby Talk!

Who doesn’t enjoy hearing the first gurgling and babbling sounds that babies make with their first attempts at communication with the world! Right from the word go (and even when they are in the womb), babies can hear and start learning the sounds that make up speech, so it is vitally important that we give them very opportunity to hear our voices (and music) in order to help them. Evidence has shown that babies can start to respond very early on to sounds and familiar voices – which is wonderful – so the earlier we get chatting to them the better!

As a mother, father, maternity nurse, maternity nanny or member of the family your chatter with the baby helps them to understand and learn about the world around them and ultimately this is going to be the springboard to help them learn to talk.

One of the easiest ways to begin communicating with the baby is to talk through what you are up to, the daily routine, how the day is going. For example, you may be going out to walk the dog, do the shopping, go on a visit/appointment or just preparing a meal – whatever the situation, make sure the baby can see you/your face and as you chat to them let them see your facial expressions!

“Time for a walk in the park, let’s get ready to go out”

“Mummy/Daddy needs to put on a coat and you will definitely need your blanket!”

“This supermarket has lots of delicious fruit – there are green apples, yellow bananas and lovely red strawberries!”

“This coffee smells so delicious”

“I wonder if we will see some lambs on the way”

So basically you want to chat about anything and everything you can see, hear or smell as you go through the day and practise describing it to the baby as vividly as possible – use colours, textures, size, comparisons and so on.

Other times & topics that are great to chat to them about are:

  • Emotions/how you feel, describing if something made you happy or sad, excited, annoyed or cross
  • Friends & family – describe who they are/where they live and if you are going to visit or see them
  • Day-to-day activities such as cleaning, bathing, cooking or doing the washing
  • When you are changing their nappy. This is a great time for close eye contact and they can directly see your face. You could chat about what you are doing and it is a lovely time to sing them a song or teach them a rhyme
  • At story time. What sort of book are you reading, who are the characters and why do you like/dislike them
  • When you get them dressed, tell them about the clothes you’re putting on and point out the different parts of their body – usually a good excuse to tickle them!
  • At meal times, talk to them about the different foods you like eating yourself and if you are weaning them, have a chat about the new foods they will be trying today

See if you can encourage everyone in the family and people visiting to chat to the baby too – all levels of interaction and communication will help the baby learn sounds and vocabulary and also stimulate their engagement and interest in the very busy world around them!

(One useful tip: whilst all language is good, try and teach the correct word for an object from the start. For example one often hears a child being told a dog is a “woof, woof/doggie” or a sheep a “baa, baa” and so on! Whilst the intention is good (you want to give the child easy sounds to deal with) it actually means they have to learn 2 words instead of one. So when they start talking/saying words they have learnt, they know a “woof, woof/doggie” but are then told actually that’s called a dog! By teaching the correct word and then the ‘sound’ that goes with it you will be making it easier for them in their language development).

Wishing you ‘happy chatting’ – you can’t get it wrong, so enjoy it!

June 7, 2023

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