Why is communicating with your baby important?

Talking, singing and reading to your baby are important to their development.

Communication with adults is an important part of baby's development.
Communication with adults is an important part of baby's development.

It may seem strange to talk, sing or read to a baby when they can’t understand what’s being said, but it’s an important part of a baby’s development. When adults spend time with babies singing, talking or reading, babies are learning the sounds in the language being used. They also learn the rhythm and flow of language. Eventually, babies will start to babble and practice sounds. They can also learn that certain sounds or words can be associated with objects. Besides learning language, spending time with babies can make them feel secure and loved.

Michigan State University Extension recommends these tips for communicating with your baby.

  • Talk about what you are doing. Describe all the steps to a task, what you see when you are outside or looking out a window.
  • Talk back. When your baby makes sounds at you, make sounds back! These are the first conversations they will have and they are teaching your baby how communication works.
  • Listen to all types of music together, make up songs and sing silly songs together.
  • Make up rhymes or use nursery rhymes to help your baby learn how sounds and rhythm work in language.
  • Read picture books together, point out different objects in the books and name them, use different voices for characters, allow them to turn the pages or point to different objects on the page and respond with what that object is named. Don’t be afraid to read the same book multiple times; it’s not boring to baby, but instead helps them become familiar with the words and objects in the book.
  • Play games. Teach new words through games like “where is your nose?” and pointing to their nose. Play peek-a-boo and mimic the sounds that baby makes.
  • Let your baby scribble with crayons on paper. The scribbles don’t start out as much, but they teach the beginnings of writing.

By talking, singing and reading to your baby, you will be helping them learn the ins and outs of language and begin laying a strong foundation for later tasks like talking, reading and writing. For more ideas about activities and articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the MSU Extension website.

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