Baby Communication

Babies are always learning new things. You can help your baby learn by talking to them from birth and by repeating the sounds they make.  So talk, sing and read to your newborn.  Have fun with your baby. By talking to them every day, you are helping your child learn to talk by 2 (and beyond)!

How do babies learn to talk?

A baby learns to talk by watching and listening to the voices and sounds around them. Your baby watches your mouth each time you talk to learn how to make different sounds.  So talk to your baby all day every day to help build their language.  Your baby will make sounds to tell you what they feel and want. Babies develop at their own rate. Some babies will do things at a very young age, while others will take a little longer.

Do babies understand when we talk to them?

Babies do not understand the meaning of all the words we say at first. Babies are learning about sounds and words when we talk to them. Talk to your baby throughout the day. Your baby will learn about language and the world from your interactions with them.

How should I talk to my baby?

  • Be face to face while you play, sing, read and talk. Use expressions!
  • Name and describe things you see and actions you do together.
  • Repeat words often: “shoe OFF, sock OFF, shirt OFF”.
  • Talk to your child in an animated voice. Also, shorten and simplify your words and sentences; speak more slowly; pause between sentences.
  • Avoid using baby words (e.g.: “baba” for “bottle” or “daw-daw” for “dog”). Teach your child words that most other people will understand.
  • Babble with your child. Teach your child real words by modeling real words, but have fun babbling back to your child too. Take turns babbling.
  • Talk to your baby throughout the day – when you are washing, dressing, feeding, etc.
  • Make sure that you always wait, look and listen to your child when talking to them. Take turns communicating. Be patient – give your child at least 10 seconds to respond with sounds or gestures.

What should I talk to them about?

  • Talk to your baby about what you are doing and show them what you are doing (e.g.: touch their arm. Say “I am washing your arm. Arm. This is your arm.”)
  • Sing songs and nursery rhymes.
  • Play simple games like “peek-a-boo” and ask “where’s mom?”  Say words like “on”, “off”, “hi”, “bye”, “more”.
  • Show your child picture books and talk about what you see.

Find more detailed information:

Strategies: Building Your Child’s Language
How is your child doing?