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From the instant you hear your baby’s first coos, you may wonder when they’ll start to talk.
After their first little illness, you may even wish they could talk sooner so they can tell you how they’re feeling and what’s wrong. Take it slow, though, Mom (or Dad)! Talking is a complex skill that requires several slow steps along the way. True talking doesn’t come until the toddler years. Enjoy the baby steps until then.
Here are a few tips on how to encourage your baby to talk.
- Watch and pay attention to your baby’s non-verbal clues.
If your baby reaches up for you say, “up” a few times and then pick her up. Baby will start to catch on if you do this consistently.
- Read plenty of books.
Books and stories will allow you to talk to your baby with meaning and use a variety of words. The pictures will also be a great learning tool to help teach the names of animals, colors, and common objects.
- Teach sign language.
Teaching simple signs, along with the words, will begin your baby’s understanding of words and communication. Some simple first signs include “more”, “all done”, ” eat” and “milk.” This could take a few months of consistency but when your baby communicates through sign for the first time, you will be overjoyed.
- Talking and narrating.
You may sound silly, or feel like you are talking to yourself, but as you go about your day talk about everything you are doing. From laundry to preparing meals to other everyday tasks, including dressing and playing with your baby, your baby will start to connect words to these everyday experiences and will encourage your baby to talk
- Praise your baby.
With babbling, or any attempt to talk, smile and clap to show your baby that you’re proud of them. These little shows of encouragement mean a lot and will build your baby’s confidence to keep trying to talk.
All of the coos, babbling, and gurgling that you hear is your baby trying to communicate and imitate what they are hearing. Turn the tables and imitate your baby. They will love to hear your voice saying what they are but imitate them so their words are being said correctly. For example, say “dog”, when your baby is saying, “daw.”
- Slow down.
As adults, we don’t fully realize how quickly we speak. Babies and young children take longer to comprehend words. Make a conscious effort to talk more slowly to increase your child’s understanding of your words and sentences.
Use all of these tips on how to encourage your baby to talk on a daily basis, but don’t get frustrated if your baby doesn’t seem to be picking things up.
They are listening and will talk in their own time. Encourage them gently, without stress and without judgment.
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