Your baby begins communicating with you without using words, through facial expression, body language and crying. As you respond to your baby's signals, talk with your baby about what she may be feeling or needing from you. When you pay attention to your baby when she is fussy, it teaches her that she can communicate to get her needs met. Babies who learn they can communicate their needs effectively will be encouraged to learn more.
Whether an infant breast-feeds or bottle-feeds, he takes in the world through tasting the milk, smelling his mother's familiar smell, seeing her face, hearing her voice and feeling his body enclosed by hers. Your newborn may need to be fed every two hours or more often, thus providing many opportunities to hold, speak to and interact with him. Research has shown this adult-child interaction promotes language development.
Most infants and toddlers enjoy listening to music. The type of music is not necessarily as important as exposure to a variety of music including lullabies or silly tunes sung by their loved ones.
Babies, whose parents talk to them, learn to talk at an earlier age. They also learn more words. This is true even though different babies learn to understand and say words in different ways.
Speak more slowly to your baby than you would to an adult. Say some words more softly and others in an excited way. Use a slightly higher pitch-sometimes called "parentese." It gets your baby's attention because he knows you are talking just to him.
When you talk to your baby, use just a few words or short sentences that you say over and over again. Call her name. Say things that make her smile and laugh. Your baby will enjoy listening to you, and later on, she will enjoy talking to you.
(Adapted in part from Healthy Start, Grow Smart from the U.S. Department of Education)