Why Is Conversation Good for Baby?

I know I’m supposed to be talking to baby but why? And what should I say? 
profile picture of Elena Donovan Mauer
ByElena Donovan Mauer
Updated
Feb 2017
Hero Image
Photo: Alexandra Grablewski - Getty Images

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.

 

Related Video

How to Boost Your Toddler’s Intelligence Without Really Trying

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
05/07/2019

Toddlers Learn More Words by Listening to Other Children

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
05/20/2019

Sorry, Mom and Dad: Babies Want to Listen to Other Babies

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
05/15/2018

Toddler Speech Delay?

Hannah Chow-Johnson, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and pediatrician at Loyola University Health System
Pediatrician

Jersey Shore Star Opens Up About Raising a Son With a Developmental Delay

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
08/28/2018

How You Can Help Baby Learn New Words: Report

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor

More Parents Are Reading From Birth Than Ever: Study

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
11/07/2017

New Study Sheds Light on How Babies Learn to Speak a Language

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
03/28/2019

Talking to Your Toddler May Boost IQ Scores Later in Life, Study Says

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
09/13/2018

The Basics (and Benefits) of Baby Sign Language

Julie D. Andrews
Contributing Writer
Advertisement