As a parent, you are always trying your best to help your little ones learn new things and get a head start in life. Did you know the easiest way to start doing this is simply by talking more to your baby? That’s right, talking to your child during their newborn and toddler years helps them achieve many developmental benefits that you may not have expected. Let’s explore what are these benefits, and tips on how to talk to your baby.
Benefits of Talking More to Your Babies and Toddlers
As adults, talking and interacting with the people around us is such a basic and natural part of our daily lives that we might not even realise its importance to the early development of babies and toddlers. In detail, talking more to your little ones benefits them in the following ways:
- It Boosts Your Child’s Brain Development
Here’s an interesting fact: your baby’s brain triples in size in the first three years of their life. In fact, eighty percent of your baby’s brain physical development happens during their first three years, and external stimulation like talking more to your baby can greatly benefit this process. Here’s how — your baby’s brain becomes much more complex as it becomes bigger, it forms synapses at an astonishingly rapid rate of around 700 synapses per second in their first few years. Synapses are the ‘connections’ that the human brain needs to learn, think and process information. Talking to your baby stimulates the important connections in your baby’s brain that process language. Hence, the more you talk to your baby, the stronger these brain connections get. This process ultimately sets a strong foundation for your child’s language skills and learning ability, which brings us to our next point.
- It Supports Your Child’s Cognitive & Language Development
According to multi-organizational initiative—TalkWithYourBaby.org, research showed that children who grow up around talkative family members are likely to have heard 30 million more words by three years old compared to their peers who didn’t. The same research also showed that children who hear more words by the time they reach three years old did better on tests of cognitive development and reading readiness later on. In other words, hearing more words in the early years boost the variety and quantity of the vocabularies that your child can understand and use, which improve their language skills.
- It Encourages Trust & Bond Between You & Your Child
Last but not least, talking more to your child fosters a strong and engaging relationship between you and your child. Through the process of talking and interacting with you, your child will learn how to comprehend your words, express their feelings and raise their doubts. These are important social skills that help them to interact better with others in school and workplace in the future.
Tips on Talking to Your Babies And Toddlers
Now that you understand the benefits of talking to your baby, let’s look at some of the basics when talking to your little one to keep them engage and encourage them to interact more with you:
- Start talking to your baby from birth. While talking to your newborn in the first few weeks may feel like a one-sided conversation, your little one is actually learning about talking and words by listening and watching you talk. Pay attention to your newborn’s response. They might not know how to talk yet, but they will respond to you by listening, making eye contact or crying.
- Talk about your daily surroundings. Yes, it’s as easy as that! Talk to your baby about the surrounding people, things and events. It can be as simple as describing what is in front of the baby. For example, if you are having playtime with your baby and he or she loves a particular toy, you can describe the name of the toy, its colour, size, texture to your baby. For the best deals on a wide range of developmental toys, baby books and more mum and baby products, start shopping on MumChecked!
- Keep a balance between talking and quiet time. As much as talking is beneficial to your baby, remember to observe their expression when you talk. If your little one seems sleepy, frustrated or impatient, you might want to take a break and give them some quiet time. How often you should talk to your baby depends on your baby’s personality as well. Some babies just naturally prefer quiet time more than the others and that’s completely fine!
- Stay focused when talking to your baby. If possible, get a few minutes of one-to-one time every day with your little one without the presence of other adults and children. Also, keep other distractions like your phone and television away. Look in your little one’s eyes when you talk to them, and when they try to respond to you, don’t interrupt them or turn away. Talking is the most beneficial for your child when there are no distractions.
- Talk about things that interest your baby, this will help them to engage better with you. For instance, if your toddler is playing with a piano toy, start a conversation about the piano toy with your toddler. Meanwhile, you can use various facial expressions and tone of voice to keep the conversation interesting. When you introduce new words in your conversation, try explaining in simpler words for them to understand. For example, ‘We are going to the swimming pool today – that’s a place where we can have fun playing with water and make new friends!’.
Tips on Raising Bilingual Children
Living in a multi-racial country like Singapore, being fluent in more than one language can be very beneficial for your children when interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds in school and beyond. So if you choose to raise your little one in a bilingual environment, here are some tips that you may consider:
- Expose your child in both languages consistently. The more often your children listen to and interact with a certain language, the better their vocabulary and grammatical development of that language will be. To achieve this, you and your spouse can consider the one-person-one-language method. For example, if your mother tongue is Mandarin while your spouse’s is English, you may speak Mandarin to your children while your spouse speaks English to them. Or, if your little one’s school is mainly an English-speaking environment, you may focus on speaking another non-English native language at home.
- Emphasize on the language quality. Other than the duration of your children’s exposure to the language, the quality of linguistic input also influences their language learning ability. For instance, instead of letting your children watch low-quality television content, you may read books or have more face-to-face interactions with them. Meanwhile, letting your little ones participate in cultural activities is a great way for them to learn their native language and get to know their cultural heritage too!
- Get the support of your friends and family. If you and your spouse are both not very fluent in a particular language that you want to help your child master, letting them interact with many different speakers of the language can improve their language proficiency. For instance, if both you and your partner don’t speak Mandarin and you are interested in helping your child learn it, consider having them interact more with family members, friends, or other children who speak Mandarin would be helpful.
Have A Great Start With Trusted Help
Parenthood is a wonderful stage in life that allows you to experience the world once again through your little one’s eyes. When it comes to giving your little one your full attention and love, having the right support when you just enter parenthood matters.
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