Category Archives: How babies learn language

Don’t talk baby talk

When talking to babies, be sure to avoid using baby talk at all costs.  Baby talk is when you speak words that are not clear and concise.  For example, instead of saying, “Does my baby want a bottle?”  baby talk would sound something like this, “Me baby wan baba?”  Your baby is working very hard to make sense of the language he hears.  It is of the highest importance that you help him along by speaking properly and giving him something to work with.  When you use baby talk, it is like teaching your baby a foreign language that will be useless later in life.

Strive to speak clearly and slowly.  Most parents naturally adopt this style of speaking to their babies.  It is referred to as parentese. Parentese means child-directed speech.  When parents are talking to their babies they tend to use a slower, higher pitched voice.  This is how babies need to be spoken to in order to thrive in their language development.  Don’t hesitate to use big words either.  Your baby has the ability to easily learn vocabulary through exposure from birth to five years old.  Provide a rich language environment and you will have a child rich in vocabulary.

Benefits of Reading to Baby

From the book Baby Read-Aloud Basics we get a list of ten benefits of reading aloud to your baby from day one.

Ten Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Baby from Day One
  1. Read-Alouds Promote Listening Skills
  2. Read-Alouds Increase the Number of Vocabulary Words Babies Hear
  3. Read-Alouds Develop Attention Span and Memory
  4. Read-Alouds Help Babies Learn Uncommon Words
  5. Read-Alouds Help Babies Learn to Understand the Meaning of Words
  6. Read-Alouds Help Babies Learn Concepts About Print
  7. Read-Alouds Help Babies Learn to Get Information from Illustrations
  8. Read-Alouds Promote Bonding and Calmness for Both Baby and Parent
  9. Read-Alouds Stimulate the Imagination and All the Senses
  10. Read-Alouds Instill the Love of Books and Learning
You can find more information by visiting their website at

Parents – Babies’ First Teachers

Perhaps most parents don’t view themselves as teachers, when in fact they are.  Did you know that the number of words your baby hears per hour before the age of two will determine their future academic success?  Babies are learning machines.  They will learn all that they can from their surrounding environment.  This development is explosive from birth to two years old, and while it slows down a bit each day, it continues on until your child is five years old.  Professionals call this the critical window of opportunity for learning language.  It seems that the period from birth to two is such an important time for parents to surround their babies with language.  While babies who were not exposed to much language develop their speech around the same time, their ability to use and understand more advanced vocabulary is definitely lacking and they rarely catch up.  Children exposed to lots of language from birth certainly have an advantage and a strong foundation for academic success.

Reread Baby’s Favorite Books

Have you ever noticed that when your baby likes something they demand to have it again and again?  It may be a favorite video or a favorite storybook.  This can sometimes be exhausting for us grownups.  Rereading a book 16 times in a row can be a little much for those who didn’t demand to hear it again.  When my son was 18 months old he wanted to hear the book “Moon Boy” 16 times in a row.  My dear daughter, bless her heart, granted him his wish, at the loud protests of her other siblings.

Is there a benefit to hearing something repeatedly?  For babies and small children the answer is yes.  There is so much to learn from repeated exposure to language.  Books that teach your child the sing-song manner of poetry.  Through repetition to language your child is learning vocabulary and how to read.  By repeatedly rereading the same books to your child, while pointing at the words while you read, your baby will also be learning how to read.  Simple, but true.
My daughter just discovered “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt”.  She requested to hear it again and again.  I pointed to the text as we read the book.  Since the book has a lot of repetition, when I would pause at the end of a phrase, she knew just what word to say.  Don’t hesitate to grant your child’s request to “Read it again!”  It means there is just more for them to learn the next time around.

Building Blocks of Literacy

Recent research tells us that the amount of words per hour your baby hears before the age of two will determine their future academic success.  It has been discovered that children who are surrounded by language become strong students.  The gift of words is something that you can begin to give your child immediately from birth.  Talk to your baby about everything.  By doing this you are giving your child a solid way to communicate.  You are increasing their vocabulary.  You are the first teacher your child ever has and by speaking to your baby often, you will help to assure their success in life.

At birth your baby is born with about 100 billion brain cells, however there are few connections. By stimulating your baby you are helping your baby make connections.  Every word you say or read to your baby will result in your baby’s brain growth.  Our words are like food to our baby’s brains.  If you do nothing else, talk to your baby and read to your baby.  These two things are the most important factors in your baby’s development.

Become a chatterbox

When babies are born, their brains are wired to learn language.  There is no limit to what or how many languages they are capable of learning.  It is through exposure to language that babies learn to speak and it is through exposure to the written word that babies learn to read.  It is difficult to teach your child a foreign language if you don’t speak a second language.  However, there are many great products available that can be used to expose babies to foreign language.  If you are not able to give your child the gift of being bilingual, do not distress.  There is something you can do to stimulate your child’s language development.

In order to stimulate your child’s language skills, make a habit of talking to the baby.  Tell the baby what you are doing, where you are going, what you are seeing, colors that are around you.  Have you ever noticed that when babies are awake they are looking around with their eyes wide open, full of wonder, at the word around them?  You can quench you baby’s desire to learn by talking to them about everything.  The more language your child hears, the more your child will master language.  Here are some simple ways to incorporate language into your baby’s life.
  • Sing lullabies to your baby
  • Recite your favorite nursery rhymes throughout the day
  • Play CD’s of poetry while your baby plays on the floor
  • Read to your child from birth
  • Talk to your baby about everything
Incorporating these steps into your life will give your child a strong foundation in language.