Talking to babies and the link to intelligence
"Mama. Dada. Ball. Bye-bye. Doggie." These are some of the most common first words for babies. But long before baby even starts to babble, let alone say their first proper words, they are listening and learning. By talking to your little one frequently throughout the first few years of life, you are offering vital information that aides emotional bonding, social sills, cognitive abilities and language learning. These things all go on to support children in school and in life when they’re older.
“Talking to our children is one of the most important things we can do to set them up for success at an early age!”
Sadly, studies have shown that vast differences in vocabulary and language process skills can exist as early as 18 months old. By the time a child is three years old, children from talkative families may have had as many as 30 million more words directed at them than children from less talkative families. Kids whose parents who speak to their children least perform worst in language and cognitive development tests and at 2 years old and fall behind their peers by up to six months. By the age of 5 years old, some children are more than 2 years behind their peers in verbal and memory skills. Talking to our children is one of the most important things we can do to set them up for success at an early age!
In a lot of ways, it really is as simple as talking to your baby. Any speech baby is exposed to is going to aide in language and conversation skills. So, feel free to talk to your baby about the most mundane of things, such as washing clothes, making dinner or whatever else your day-to-day activities include. However, there are some additional specific things that parents can do to guide baby’s language development:
· Use Baby talk: Babies are more likely to respond to baby talk than normal adult conversation as the high pitched and exaggerated tones appeal more to their little ears. So go ahead and use the sing-song voice that tends to naturally appear when adults talk to babies. Contrary to public opinion, it’s actually a good thing!
· Use grammatically correct language: Building on the above point, don’t let the “baby talk” stop you from using full sentences that contain a mix of verbs, adjectives and nouns, as these all help baby grow their vocabulary and build future language.
· Listen: As important as it is to talk to your baby, make sure to listen when baby babbles back without interruption or turning away your attention – this lets baby know you care and encourages the art of conversation.
· Be Present: Make eye contact with baby and give them your full attention when speaking, as one-on-one time is beneficial when it comes to talking with baby.
· Play games and sing songs: Playing games such as “peek-a-boo” and “patty-cake” and singing songs such as “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” are fun for baby and therefore hold baby’s attention. Who says learning has to be boring?
· Read to Baby: Reading provides a great opportunity to explore new words and ideas - and research has shown that it sets kids up for success in school. Plus, research has also shown pairing language with other cues (i.e. pictures and real life objects) increases the rate in which children learn new words. Unfortunately, too much screen time (including TVs and iPads) might actually have negative effects on language development.
· Focus on Baby’s Interests: Whether it be a certain animal or trains or a favorite book character, research has shown that babies develop language best when parents and caregivers engage them in conversations around things baby finds interesting.
Walks in the pram can provide a great opportunity to talk to your baby as you explore new things together. However, studies have shown that parents are significantly less likely to talk to their baby once the stroller is turned to be forward-facing. The pramglam stroller mirror makes it easier to engage with baby while out exploring the world. It just makes sense that you’re more likely to speak to baby when you can actually see them! Walks outdoors may include talking about the trees, weather or passing animals. Or if you’re using the stroller indoors, talk about the food you’re picking out at the grocery store– or colors of clothing you’re seeing at the shopping mall. With the mirror, every outing can be an opportunity to talk to and connect with your little one. As always, we wish you many happy & engaged outings together.