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Talking to Your Baby

Babies learn language by hearing other people speak around them and by practicing those sounds. Repetition helps babies learn to understand speech and strengthens the language connections in the brain. Here are some ways you can help your baby learn language.

Talk to your baby!

This is the most important step you can take. Some parents feel silly talking to a baby who can’t talk back. But your baby is listening to your speech and learning from it even before he can answer your questions.

Play language games with your baby

When she makes a sound, repeat it and add a new sound. Take turns talking with your baby. Smile at her. Sing to her. Recite nursery rhymes. Play Pat-a-cake. Interacting with you is one of the best ways for a baby to experience language.

Read aloud to your baby

Even before he can understand the story, he hears the sounds. And sharing a book helps build a lifelong love of reading.

Don’t use the TV as a substitute for you

Babies need interaction with real live people to learn language. Canned TV sounds are not the same.

Have your baby’s hearing checked

Babies with hearing problems don’t get the language experience they need. If your baby has a hearing loss, she may need a specialist’s help. The earlier hearing problems are identified and corrected, the better.

Teach multiple languages early

If you want your child to speak more than one language start early! Children growing up in bilingual homes often speak both languages fluently.

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Reprinted with permission from the University of Georgia. Bales, D. (1998). Building Baby’s Brain: Learning Language. Athens, GA: University of Georgia, College of Family and Consumer Sciences. 23 November 2010