You've seen it happen before. One of your friends has a baby, and suddenly they begin talking in baby voice — not just to their child, but to you, too. If the baby talk is translating into adult conversations, you can only imagine what it's like when the baby's actually present. And you know what? It's hard not to fall into. When I see a baby, it's almost like I have to fight against baby talk. By arming yourself with ideas of what to do instead of baby talk, you'll be able to fight that incessant urge to goo-goo and ga-ga back at your baby. (Or other peoples babies, because it's just as difficult to resist with them.)
Talking to your baby is an incredibly important part of their development, so staying silent is not the solution to your baby talk blues. Rather than paring down on what you're saying to your child, the following ideas suggest you actually ramp it up. So the next time you find yourself about to mumble some sweet baby talking nothings into your baby's ear, reach for one of these options instead, and you'll be doing both you and your baby a favor in the long run.
1. Speak Parentese
According to PBS, speaking "parentese" with your child has true value. If you're not familiar with parentese, it's that high pitched tone of voice you take on any time you see a baby, that turns into sing-song speech. And it's not just an English-speaking practice, people around the world practice it, and research showed that infants prefer this to other forms of communication. Elongating vowels, exaggerated facial expressions, and short sentences help infants gain a better understanding of language, according to PBS.
2. Narrate Everything
Use all the time you spend with your baby to narrate your every day activities. Tell your baby what you're doing as you're wiping down the counter, or organizing the toys, or filing away your papers. The more your baby hears, the more words they'll understand, according to Belly Belly.
3. Talk All The Time
Use all of your opportunities for communication. This will encourage your baby to pay attention to the world around them, and encourage communication skills, according to Scholastic. Whether you're narrating your every move for your baby, or you're taking a stroll around the neighborhood and chatting with others, make sure you keep communication opportunities open for your baby.
4. Read Books With Your Baby
Reading books to your baby, and reading them properly, is key to encouraging communication, according to Parents. Though Parents recommended big picture books for infants, as it's really about your connection with them, as early as seven months, your child can really start to grasp the words you're reading them. So start them early.
5. Sing With Your Baby
Parenting noted that singing with your baby, just like that parentese sing-song voice, will encourage your baby to join in on the cacophony. Regardless of how good or bad your voice is, your baby will love the sound, and love learning this way.
6. Watch For Nonverbal Communication
According to Parents, it's important to watch out for nonverbal communication, and respond verbally. By associating the proper words with your baby's actions, they'll in turn learn to use the correct words. So when they wave, encourage hellos and goodbyes. When they reach for an item, say the item's name before you hand it to them, and so on.
7. Plan Playdates
You're not the only one who can help usher your baby's communication skills into the next level. By organizing activities with kids your child's age, regardless of their speaking ability, you'll be giving them a chance to listen and interact with one another, according to Parents. They'll test drive their baby talk out with one another, and they might just learn a thing or two.