When we first bring home our little ones we are excited over every coo and smile they make. Sleepless days and weeks pass before we are finally gifted with smiles that aren’t the result of a satisfying poo, and before we know it our baby’s coos have turned into babbles. This sometimes leads to parents playfully teasing one another over who will be the baby’s first word. Most of the time dads win that battle, this is because the word dada is easier for their mouth to form, and mama isn’t that far behind. Not too long after they utter your name, that bundle of joy is screaming your name wanting milk or a snack. Therein lies the catch 22 of encouraging babies to talk. We spend the first year of their lives teaching them to talk and the next seventeen years trying to get them to stop.
From the moment babies are born they begin to absorb the sounds, tones and voices that fill the delivery room. We gently talk to them, permeating their minds with our loving words, even though they are unable to understand them. Some new mothers have found themselves uncomfortable not knowing how to talk to their newborn and I don’t blame them, the little blank space staring back at you doesn’t give you much to work with outside of baby talk. I found that one of the best, and easiest, ways to get over that problem was to read to your little one.
During cuddle time pick up a book and read it aloud. Thankfully, since you have a captive audience, you aren’t limited to only pictures books with very little words. There are many moms that use this time to finally read that book that they never had the time to read and not only does it benefit you, it benefits the baby. As you read, you are introducing your baby to a world of words and some of them may not be words you would use in daily conversation. Without knowing it you are building your child's vocabulary. But with this chance it doesn’t mean to forget picture books. Picture books use the simplest language, paired with images, to help your baby begin to understand the world around them.
It may be a surprise to some but within a very short three months most babies have the ability to watch you. They listen to you talk and will turn their head to find out where a new sound may be coming from. Another fun way to encourage and develop your infants vocal ability is to sing to them. WEBMD says also by three months babies can even be "cooing" -- a happy, gentle, repetitive, sing-song vocalization.”
What it comes down to is engaging with your child. It means putting down the cellphone and turning off the tv. When your baby babbles to you it’s great to answer them back mimicking them, but it’s even better to answer them using real words. My favorite thing was to listen to my daughter’s excited chatter and trying to guess what she was talking about. Using phrases like “you don’t say,” and “tell me more” mixed in with some babble I really felt like I encouraged her to continue on with what had caught her attention. Nearly every time I would pick her up I would address the action we were doing. I would say “Do you want up?” or while getting dressed I would describe what I was doing to her.
There’s no way around it, you will feel silly at times, but the baby doesn’t know it’s silly. They know they are getting your attention. They are absorbing not only your words but your emotions and feelings. If you ever wonder how you sound to others you will learn at around the two year mark when your toddler has turned into a parrot and repeats every little thing you never wanted them to say.