By the time a baby’s born, they’ve already been listening to their mom talk for months. Around 30 weeks gestation, babies begin responding to sound because their inner ear‘s finished developing. We know babies are listening to language because before a baby’s even left the delivery room, they can tell the difference between vowels in their native language vs a foreign language.
So we know auditory development begins even before birth, but it’s not over yet. From birth to 6 months of age there’s tons of auditory development going on. This is why talking and singing to your baby from birth is soooo important. Because even though your baby may not be smiling or crawling yet, their brain’s auditory system is growing like crazy.
It’s instinct to talk to infants using ‘baby talk‘ and ‘motherese.’ Baby talk is literally designed for baby’s auditory and language development. Those emphasized vowels, short sentences, and intense inflections in your voice make it easier for baby to begin processing and understanding language.
Have you ever noticed the difference between when you talk to an infant in a normal voice vs with baby talk? Baby’s smile, coo, and intently watch you when you’re using baby talk. Baby talk for the win! So don’t hold back, use your ooey-gooey, fun baby voice!
When to Talk
Talk to your baby all the time. Narrate, or explain, what you’re doing and use that baby talk. Talk about making a bottle, changing a onsie, seeing a bird. Tell your baby all about it 🙂 And talk about the things that you notice your baby is interested in. This is called following your child’s lead. If you see a bird but your baby is looked at a leaf, talk about the leaf.
Talking to your baby is a major factor when is comes to language and vocabulary development. This development is crucial for your baby’s longterm success, whether it is at school or in the workplace. A lot of research has been done about the correlation between parents talking to their children, vocabulary growth, and school success. (Check out this post for more info on this research and how to teach new words to your preschooler)
So talk, talk, talk to your baby from the very beginning. And if you feel a little crazy talking to yourself, that means you’re on the right track 🙂
Moon, C., Lagercrantz, H., & Kuhl, P. K. (2013). Language experienced in utero affects vowel perception after birth: A two-country study. Acta Paediatrica, 102(2), 156-160. doi:10.1111/apa.12098
Tharpe, A. M., & Ashmead, D. H. (2001). A longitudinal investigation of infant auditory sensitivity. American Journal Of Audiology, 10(2), 104.
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