" Why It's Important for Parents to Talk to Their Newborns

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Why It's Important for Parents to Talk to Their Newborns

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New parents receive tons of advice about caring for their newborn babies, from how to hold them to how to put them to bed. One thing that isn’t often discussed in those early days is the benefit of talking to your baby. Pediatricians everywhere will tell you that talking to your baby has amazing benefits, including assisting with brain development and improving cognitive potential. Keep reading to see why and how you should talk to your baby!

 

Brain Development Through Conversation

Babies’ brains are forming long before birth, but stimulus after birth truly shapes who they are. From the time children are born to the age of three, their brains increase to three times their birth size. This development occurs as the result of interacting Interactive Babywith the world around them. This interaction especially includes parents and other loved ones speaking with them.

The benefits are undeniable. Did you know that third-graders whose parents spoke to them often as babies did better on reading readiness tests? They also possessed larger vocabularies. In addition to these great benefits, babies created stronger inter-brain connections as they heard more words AND were likely to have stronger language skills when they were older.

 

When Do I Start?

The first question you’re probably asking yourself is, when do I start? The answer is simple—as soon as possible. In fact, babies can begin to hear noises in the womb at 18 weeks and react to voices and other sounds in the uterus by about 25 weeks. So, starting before birth is great for both you and your baby. The bottom line is that talking to your baby in the womb is beneficial for the baby and creates a vital habit for you.

 

The Baby Arrives—Interaction Really Begins

The exciting day has come, and your bundle of joy has arrived. Now that you’ve met face to face, you can also begin to communicate and interact in a completely new way. Talk to your baby while maintaining eye contact. Babies respond better when you make eye contact.

 

What Should I Say?

In the Beginning

You might feel unsure of yourself or be uncertain about what to say. Don’t worry. Just talk to your baby like you’d talk to anyone else. As you change a diaper or give a bath, tell your baby what you’re doing. Sit him or her in the kitchen as you prepareNewborn Brushing His Teeth dinner and provide a play by play. Just talk. Read books aloud and name the food items as you shop at the grocery store. Your baby may not interact with you in a recognizable way, just yet, but, before you know it, you’ll be having full-fledged conversations.

 

As Your Child Grows

Your baby is growing up quickly and soon, you’ll begin to notice your child doing a lot more than making eye contact when you speak. As he or she answers you in various ways, such as gurgling, giggling, and speaking—both actual and made up words—be sure you take turns. What your baby has to say is important to them. It’ll also teach them how to take part in the conversation.

 

Tips on How to Keep the Conversation Going

Play Peekaboo

With babies and younger children, play simple games like peekaboo and pat-a-cake. Take turns and make eye contact. Use the fun time to strike up a conversation about what you’re both doing, parts of the body—whatever seems appropriate.

 

Sing Songs

Music is another great way to foster speaking with your little one. Turn on the music or go at it alone; singing words is as good as speaking them. Some parents think they have to put on children’s music, but that simply isn’t so. Utilize a variety of music you both like. Just remember—explicit music is sure to lead to those words popping out when you don’t want them to, so choose your music wisely.

 

Voice Your Daily Routine

As you go through your day, tell baby what you’re doing. This will help you keep up the conversation, and they will learn plenty of new words. When completing activities like a bath, use the time to name body parts and play. Saying things like “This is your nose, and these are your toes” will expand your growing child’s vocabulary.

 

Nursery Rhymes

Perhaps you’ve never thought about why nursery rhymes exist. These catchy little sayings are great ways to increase your speech time without trying to figure out what you’re going to say. They’re catchy, simple, and use words you might not incorporate into your daily speech.

 

Happy Baby

They’re Never Too Young for Books

Reading is a fantastic habit to develop, no matter what age your baby is. You can start reading to your baby the moment he or she is born. Picture books are a brilliant way to start. These books give you images to describe and relationships to elaborate on. You can discuss the details while showing baby the pictures, giving you both a lot to talk about.

As your child grows, so should the books. Try to choose books your child responds to and seems interested in. Keep in mind, you can do a lot more than read the words. You can point out the pictures and converse about whatever this may bring up.

 

Ways to Show Interest

Now you have some ideas on how to strike up a conversation with your child, no matter what age he or she may be. You should also know that showing interest is imperative to aid in your child’s development. They should feel that you value communicating with them, and that you enjoy the time together as much as they do.

There are plenty of ways to show your child that he or she has your attention. Begin by turning off the TV and putting away the electronic devices. Now, get down on their  level and start talking! Dedicate this time to your child, and don’t let interruptions get in the way.

 

Consequences of Not Talking to Your Baby

Perhaps you’re wondering what happens if you don't talk to your baby. For starters, babies will learn to speak more slowly than if you did talk to them. Not speaking with your children means their vocabularies will be smaller. Not conversing with your children also means that you’re spending less time paying attention to and interacting with them. When that happens, it can be difficult to develop a strong bond with your baby.

Perhaps the biggest consequence is the effect it could have on your child’s habits. Reading books, playing games, and talking helps him or her to create lifelong habits. Starting these early means they’re more likely to stick. Not doing them at all can mean the habits may never develop. Particularly, reading to your children early will help create a love of books that will be an important interest throughout their life.

 

I Still Have Questions

We know that parents have questions. You may want to know if you’re talking to your child enough or if you’re saying the right things. Your child may not seem to respond, or maybe other concerns have arisen. Not to worry. Your doctor is the best person to address all of your concerns. If you have questions you’d like to have answered, we suggest you book an appointment with your pediatrician, as they know you and your child the best.

If you don’t have a doctor already, you may be wondering “How do I find a pediatrician near me?” Search for a doctor near you and book online today!

 

Sources

1. https://talkwithyourbaby.org/why/

2. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/baby-talk-language#1