I understand how some parents, especially new parents, might feel a bit awkward speaking to a baby that doesn’t speak back. No matter how silly we may feel, we need to keep their development in mind and push along having conversations with babies that merely babble, laugh, or simply stare wide-eyed at us.
Do you know what happens if you don’t talk to your baby? Since there are a number of benefits to glean from communicating with your baby, it’s no surprise that not talking may cause some delays in their development, especially socially.
In this article
- Importance of Talking to your Baby
- Benefits of Talking to Baby
- How to Talk to Your Newborn Baby
- How Much Should I Talk to My Baby?
- Talking to Babies Like Adults
- Is Baby Talk Bad?
- Baby Talk Examples
- Negative Effects of Baby Talk
Importance of Talking to your Baby
It’s known that once a baby is born, they’re consistently developing and eager to soak up new information. That’s why it’s important that you learn to nurture their mind as much as you care for them physically.
Talking is one of those ways you can help their little brains grow. Communicating with your baby is the first example of social interaction that they’ll have. Without hearing and seeing those around them talk, babies can miss out on crucial brain, social, and language development.
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Benefits of Talking to Baby
As I mentioned in the beginning, there are several benefits of speaking to your baby.
What parent wouldn’t want their baby to recognize their voice? The only way this can happen is by talking to them often enough to associate what they hear with you.
This is honestly something that can start in the womb, so it may be a good idea to start communicating that early. If you start while pregnant, be sure the other parent, if there is one, gets in on the talking as well so your baby can tell the difference between you two.
New Sounds, New Languages, New Words
Babies do a lot of their own cooing and general sound-making, but you can help them along by speaking to them.
Also, talking to your baby helps them understand your language. This is clearly important as they’ll need that knowledge once they’re old enough to start talking.
Speaking of your baby talking, when you speak to them, they’re constantly learning new words. Now, they may not be able to actually say these words, but they know them nonetheless.
Have you noticed how quickly your baby begins to understand the word ‘no’? They’ll associate it with you wanting them to stop doing something or to get away from something before they actually say the word.
The same goes for pointing out specific toys or labeling family members such as ‘mom’, ‘dad,’ and ‘grandma’.
As you start to speak to your baby, try doing it as an actual conversation. Meaning, allow them to babble or utter sounds, and once they’re done, talk back.
This will be their first conversation experience. It’ll help teach them how to speak, but also how to listen and respond back to others.
There are many social developmental milestones your baby will go through, so talking to them early on is a good way to start them off on the right foot.
It’s my hope that I speak for a lot of parents out there when I say that bonding with our babies is one of the best feelings in the world. Much of that comes through simple interaction.
When you talk to your baby, you give them your undivided attention. You show them that you care and that they’re safe with you.
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How to Talk to Your Newborn Baby
Older babies communicate as best as they can through giggling, gurgles, and more indescribable sounds. However, newborns aren’t exactly making much noise unless they’re crying. So, how do you talk to them?
Well, consider that babies start communicating while they’ll developing in mommy’s womb, so you can start speaking with newborns much like you can with older babies.
Your baby will understand more than some parents may give them credit for. In fact, they can learn to recognize the tone of your voice, the expression on your face, and the general sound of your voice.
An ideal way to talk to your newborn would be to keep your tone light while wearing a gentle expression. Smile at them often so that they begin early to recognize a happy, loving parent.
Don’t expect them to make much noise back, but don’t let their silence throw you off. They may be staring, but they’re absorbing every action you take and word you say.
How Much Should I Talk to My Baby?
There doesn’t appear to be one solid statement on how often you should actually talk to your baby. You’re probably going to speak to them on a daily basis.
You talk when you’re changing their diaper and clothes. You talk while feeding them. You talk while playing.
So, it’s a given that communication will happen every day, but how often within a day should you speak to them?
Seeing that they’re picking up on words and sounds from when they’re in the womb, try talking to them as often as you feel comfortable.
The more you do, the more likely they’ll start reaching their milestones such as making their own sounds, recognizing and assigning certain words to specific actions, and eventually formulating words themselves.
Talking to Babies Like Adults
Are you one of those parents who feel more content speaking to your baby as you would anyone else? Well, that isn’t something to worry about. Many people don’t feel comfortable using the ‘baby talk’, a topic I’ll get more into later on.
When it comes to ‘adult speak’, it is certainly a way to help your baby’s social and language skills. The way you speak to your baby should always adapt to their age and development.
This type of talk can help your baby understand the real meaning behind words.
Speaking to them like an adult may also help them with the grammar, formal part of speech. They’ll grow up with a better understanding of the right way to formulate a sentence. This could assist them in holding longer, more creative conversations once they start speaking.
Is Baby Talk Bad?
When it comes to baby talk, you’ll probably hear conflicting opinions about it. Some view it as unnecessary and unhelpful for your baby’s development.
Meanwhile, you’ll get others that cite evidence to the contrary, saying how beneficial baby talk is for your little one’s advancing language.
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On one hand, those against baby talk feel like it may potentially limit the baby’s vocabulary. Speaking normally, as I touched on in the previous section about ‘adult talk’, may broaden their horizons a lot more.
Now, those on the other side of the argument feel that baby talk is a great way to make your baby feel happier. Speaking in a higher, sing-song like tone may be something many infants prefer. As babies aren’t understanding words then, they get the emotion behind it through baby talk.
Perhaps how good or bad baby talk is relates to how often and long you do it. Using that tone to young infants doesn’t appear to harm your baby, but as they age, so should the way you approach them.
Baby Talk Examples
So, if you want to embark on the benefits your little one can get from baby talk, consider the various ways to approach it.
You can start simple with single-words like “mama” and “dada”.
Don’t be afraid to use full sentences though as baby talk doesn’t always equate to sounding exactly like a baby.
For instance, you can tell your baby something silly like, “Do you have a stinky diaper?”
It seems like a sentence intended for someone older, but when said in that sweet, happy tone with a smile on your face, it can capture your baby’s attention.
In fact, sentences like that may also help them start recognizing different actions like soiling their diaper means they’re about to go to the changing table.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat: happy tone.
It’s important that, if you’re going with baby talk, they feel positive emotion from you. Anything harsh or aggravated will rub off on your baby immediately. This can upset them or shut them off communicating with you further for the time being.
Your baby will always pick up on sounds before they understand what you’re saying, so keep a careful watch out for your tone.
Baby talk isn’t just what comes out of your mouth. It’s the look on your face as well. Many parents make more exaggerated expressions to excite their baby and teach them what it means to emote.
Negative Effects of Baby Talk
Even though baby talk is natural for many parents, some research feels like it may actually slow your baby’s overall development down.
There aren’t many solid studies about it, but some do believe that using less complex language and words may discourage your baby from using them once they grow up and begin talking.
To steer back to the question in the beginning: what happens if you don’t talk to your baby? Well, they simply won’t develop the way that they should.
Talking to your baby helps them learn new languages, words, and social skills. It’s also a wonderful way to merely bond with them and helps them grow emotionally and mentally.