Newborn Basics

Why Is Conversation Good For Baby?

I know I’m supposed to be talking to baby but why? And what should I say?  

Baby heard your voice for nine months and needs continued chats to develop a language of his own, says Paula Prezioso, MD.

Studies have shown that babies respond very early to voice — especially mom’s — and talking helps baby later progress through the milestones of cooing to babbling to single words and phrases. Children not exposed to language, even from an early age, can have delayed vocabulary development at school age, Prezioso says.

At first, it might feel weird talking to someone who can’t talk back, but once you get started, it will feel less foreign. Here’s how:

It doesn’t have to be baby talk. Chat with baby however feels right to you. “Some people automatically speak in a higher register to babies,” Prezioso says. “Others talk to their kids in a normal voice and without using words like ‘boo boo,’ so they learn the proper names for things.” Either is totally fine.

Read anything. “It could be The New York Times or whatever you have to read for work. Baby just wants to hear your voice,” Prezioso says. “Read every day.”

Sing. Baby gets exposed to language through song. And babies love to be sung to — it doesn't matter if your voice is off-key!
 
Narrate. Talk to baby throughout the day and tell her what you’re doing and why. Make a face-to-face connection when you can. But, it’s okay to have periods when you’re silent too. “Baby might get fussy and may just need some quiet,” Prezioso says. “You’ll begin to read baby’s cues.”

Expert: Paula Prezioso, MD, is a pediatrician at Pediatric Associates of NYC.


 

By Elena Donovan Mauer