It might seem silly to talk to a baby that can’t talk back to you, but the impact of speaking to your children begins long before they say their first words. In fact, long term studies have shown that the more words kids hear from age birth to three, the higher their IQ and the better they do in school.
A baby’s brain triples in size once they reach age three, and this growth comes from increased interaction with the world, especially from conversations with family. Kids who come from talkative families score better on reading tests when they’re older, have healthier relationships, and develop stronger memories as they develop.
Considering how important it is to keep in constant communication with your newborn or toddler, it’s alarming how many parents are unaware of its cognitive effects. To help your child’s brain develop at a quicker rate, and to increase their abilities later in life, try following the five tactics for the most effective way to talk to your baby.
1. Pay Attention
Babies are able to pick up on whether or not you’re trying to communicate with them, and they can also pick up on your emotional tone. If you’re busy on your cell phone or watching TV, your baby won’t have a chance to attempt to interact with you, even if it’s just a coo or babble. If your baby is seated or playing on the floor, getting on their physical level will also help aid in communication.
Smiling can reinforce your child’s attempts to communicate. It not only helps with brain development, but it helps your baby’s self-esteem and lets them know that they are important. It’s best to smile at your baby when you are both relaxed, and they will soon begin to reciprocate the expression.
3. Use Baby Talk
In addition to using your usual voice, it is important you also try incorporating baby talk. Studies have found that when parents use the exaggerated, sing-songy way of talking, their children ended up knowing more words than babies in families who only used a normal, adult way of speaking.
Speaking in baby talk can help encourage your child to try to babble back, which teaches your baby the back-and-forth of a typical conversation.
You can help strengthen your child’s listening skills as well as expose them to more words by narrating your activities throughout the day. This takes them out of just talking about their everyday activities and into a whole new realm of vocabulary. Soon your baby will begin associating words with each of these activities.
The more you repeat the same words and phrases, the quicker your baby will pick up on them. Repeat these simple words often and clearly, so they can more easily catch on to these associations. It can also help to point out the object you are referencing.