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Baby talk promotes language skills

Jinny Hopp, former Human Environmental Sciences Specialist, Jasper County, University of Missouri Extension


Research suggests to us that the best parent and child relationships are characterized by an abundance of positive communication. Good communication will lead to warm relationships, cooperation and increased self-esteem within the child. Enhancing communication and language skills is a very important role for the parent/caregiver, and is really quite simple to do. Talking with baby is important! Below are some helpful hints to use with your child during the first two years of life:

Talk during daily routines
Talk to your infant when feeding or diapering. Your talking stimulates the baby’s brain development. Babies learn tone of voice, the rhythm of language and word sounds from you. Your explanations reassure them.

When talking with toddlers you are showing them how to put words together and form sentences. Toddlers are very curious about things in the world. As you and your child do things around the house, name the things that you are using and talk about what you are doing.

Ask questions
Be patient, give them your undivided attention and encourage them to respond. Young children may stutter because they are trying to find the words to use, which is typical of a young child, but be patient and allow them time to find the words. You are teaching good patterns for communication when you speak and then wait for a response.

Sing to them
Babies don't care whether you can carry a tune or not. Your singing to them gives them more sounds to identify and helps make more connections in the brain.

Read books
Reading is a fun way for children to recognize words and their meanings. Reading can be done anywhere: outside in the yard or on the porch, inside on the couch, at the table in the kitchen or tucked in bed. As you and your child go through a book, talk about what is happening in the pictures. Set aside time every day for reading. This can be a very special time for your child. It will make them feel loved because you are giving them your full attention.

Discuss feelings
Help toddlers label both positive and negative emotions with words. For example, "You look so happy to see Grandma," and "I know you're mad because you can't have that candy." Being able to communicate feelings is very important; it is the first step to emotional well-being in later life. Being able to recognize and communicate one’s own feelings will assist with understanding others.

Use nonverbal communication
Nonverbal communication is powerful. Nonverbal communication involves facial expression, tone of voice, gestures, touch and eye contact. When communicating with your child, be an example of ways that people use nonverbal expressions by exaggerating facial expressions, using different tones of voice and using a variety of hand or body gestures. You only need to watch a child to see how the people important to them use their bodies. They are small mirrors reflecting how the adults around them move and speak.


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Last Updated 04/11/2011