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Help Your Baby Talk

Can You Help Your Baby Learn?

Direct interaction with you is one of the best ways for a baby to learn language. Your baby enjoys being with you and listening to your voice more than any other person or sound. In general, babies learn their native language(s) by watching and listening to the people around them speaking and by mimicking those sounds.
 
There are a few ways that you can assist your baby in learning his language. These are a few of the most helpful steps you can take:
 
  • Talk to your baby. Your baby is listening to your speech and learning from it long before he can understand what you are saying.
     
  • Play games that encourage your baby to make sounds. Repeat his sounds and let him repeat yours.
     
  • Read to your baby. Speak clearly, softly, and slowly.
     
  • Sing to him. It doesn't matter what song it is or if you remember the words. Just make something up and have fun with it!
     
  • 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, early detection is ideal. You want to help your baby take advantage of this early critical period for language learning.
     

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Once your baby has reached the stage in the language learning process in which he is making repetitive sounds, such as "ma-ma-ma" and "gu-gu-gu," you can help to attach meanings to those sounds.
 
When a child makes a sound that is close enough to a real word, try to act out the meaning of that word or point to the object it sounds like.
 
Examples of how and when to do this are:
 
  • If a baby says "ba-ba-ba," point to his bottle and say "bottle"
  • If your baby says "da-da-da," point to his father and say "daddy."
     
Do this often, slowly, and clearly. Eventually, the association will be made and he will learn. Repetition helps babies learn to understand speech and strengthens the language connections in their brains.
 
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