What to Say When You Talk to Your Baby
How many people do you know that talk baby talk to babies? More than you'd probably care to think about. Is baby talk bad for babies? Well, it doesn't really hurt, but it doesn't necessarily help baby's language development, either.
It's best to talk to a baby just as you would talk to any other person. Just work at keeping it simple. (Reading War and Peace to your baby isn't going to help him or her learn the language any faster.) Start with simple sounds and then build to short, concise words.
Don't expect too much in the beginning! Make sounds slowly, mouthing and saying “o-o-o” and giving baby ample time to hear (and eventually repeat) it. After about a month of this, baby should finally repeat the sound, and baby's language development skills will be off to a great start.
Other tips for talking to your baby include:
Keep it short and sweet. Use short, simple words like happy, ball, puppy, and kitty when you talk to your baby. Babies can only process a few syllables at a time; so go slow and keep it simple.
Use toys as visual cues. Find a toy that is a favorite of baby's to play with; tell baby the name of the toy (bear, rattle, etc.), and use its name frequently. Give the toy to baby right after saying what it is.
Involve baby's body. Clap baby's hands along when you play word games. Physical activity can help baby associate learning new words with something that feels good to do.
Narrate everyday activities. Narrate the things you do during the day, for baby's sake. When baby is on the changing table, for instance, you could say, “Now, I'm going to change your diaper. See, di-a-per. All clean!” When you show baby a diaper and then say the word, baby starts to associate pictures with words.
Use baby's name often. Dale Carnegie was right when he said that there is no sweeter sound to a human than the sound of his own name. This is how baby's sense of personal identity develops.
Read to baby. Short, simple books that have a touchy-feely approach (such as mirrors for baby to look into or fake fur to pet) are a good starting point, since much of a baby's early processing occurs through sensual, hands-on experiences. Books of rhymes are good, too, since there is repetition of sounds.