Few baby milestones are as thrilling as your child’s first words. They sound just plain adorable, for one thing. The fact that your little one can talk to you, and that you can better understand his wants and needs, is a huge accomplishment for both of you.
While every child will learn to speak at his own pace, your baby might babble his first “mama” or “dada” around 6 to 8 months, and by age 1 he may have added a few other words to his list. While your child probably won’t be able to have a full conversation until his second year, it’s not too early to start encouraging language development. These tips will help get your baby talking.
Baby talking rule number 1: Get chatty.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but in the first year of life, children are drawn to their parents’ voices and faces. So simply talking to your baby teaches him new vocabulary and encourages first words. Talk aloud to your little one as you go about your daily tasks, even when what you have to say seems silly (e.g., “Mommy’s folding the blue socks right now!”). Provide constant narration when you are out and about in a new environment to introduce him to new words (e.g., “Look at those pretty flowers in the park!”).
Baby talking rule number 2: Talk back.
Aim to respond to whatever your little one is looking at. Follow your child’s interests and let her be your guide when deciding what to talk about. For example, if your child is staring at a dog and babbling, make this the topic of conversation and repeat the word “dog” over and over while pointing at the pup.
Baby talking rule number 3: Focus on routines and repetition.
Daily activities such as bath time, mealtime, and changing time are ideal opportunities to have the same conversations with your baby each day. During these times, she will begin to pick up on key words and phrases and associate them with the activity.
Baby talking rule number 4: Model speech for your baby.
To help your baby build language skills, speak in slow, short sentences about whatever your child is focusing on and wait for her to try to repeat the word back if she’s ready. Help her recognize objects and words through play ("Here’s your ball. Let’s hide the ball").
Your baby will be on a roll with her words before you know it! Just remember that some children start talking early, and others take their time to utter their first words.