Caring for Mom

Teaching Baby to Talk

Teaching Baby to Talk

Hearing your baby say the words “mama” or “dada” for the first time is one of those major milestone moments that as a parent, you never forget. Between 12 and 18 months, most babies can say these magical words and maybe even a few others. However, every baby is different, so don’t worry if your child is still babbling and communicating with gestures. When it comes to language skills, there’s a wide range of normal.

There are plenty of fun ways you can encourage talking. Use these tips to boost your child’s language skills.

  • Give everything a name. By labeling what your child is seeing or doing, you help your child associate a word with that object or action. For example, if you’re feeding your child, point out the “cup” and “spoon.” If your child is eating a banana, point to the fruit and say “banana.” Be sure to speak slowly and clearly and repeat words often. Eventually your child will repeat the words back to you.
  • Start a conversation. Even when you’re alone with your child, keep talking. Comment on everything you’re doing. It may seem funny to say things like “Daddy is eating a sandwich” or “Mommy is going to put on her shoes now,” but research shows that the more adults talk around children, the wider their vocabulary becomes.
  • Ask questions. Ask open-ended question such as “Do you want some milk?” or “Where is your blanket?” to encourage conversation. Pause to give your child time to respond, and clap your hands and smile if your child answers you — the praise will encourage more interaction. If your child doesn’t respond, be sure to answer your own questions and keep the conversation going.
  • Read, read and read some more. It’s never too early to explore books with your child. Whether it’s picture books or storybooks, you can engage your child by labeling the objects and actions you’re reading about. Use an expressive voice to hold your child’s interest. Remember, even if he or she isn’t connecting images with words yet, reading is a great opportunity to bond with your child.
  • Sing and play games. Sing-along games such as “Pat-a-Cake” and “The Wheels on the Bus,” are a fun and engaging way to create awareness of sounds and words found in every day speech.

Contact your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your child’s language development or hearing.