Short and Sweet Talk to Your Baby

In addition to your “running commentary” describing your activities like a reporter to your baby, you should have have some times of using short, tuneful, simple sentences such as “Up we go” or “Bounce up high.” Each activity—changing a diaper, watching his mobile, feeding and dressing, provides a backdrop for a series of little sentences. Diaper time could include “Pick your feet up,” “Rip off the tabs,” “Ooh, the diaper is wet,” “Wipe your bottom” and “Now you’re dry.” You will naturally use some of the same expressions during each activity and your baby will start to learn the vocabulary associated with that category of activity.

Always use grammatically correct sentences. Confused by mixed messages in child guidance books, parents ask me whether to use short phrases like, “Put shoe on” versus “Put Will’s shoe on.” If your child’s language is developing normally, you would talk to him in grammatically correct sentences like the latter example, including all pertinent parts of speech. Your child benefits from hearing all parts of the sentence.

If it materializes that your child is delayed, you can try a shorter version, sometimes called “telegraphic speech.” “Put shoe on,” for a child who is delayed in speech, reduces language and makes it easier to learn. Children developing normally are hard-wired to learn language from adults speaking correctly. No baby talk!

This entry was posted in Babies, Birth-3 year-olds, Language, Strategies to Encourange Language Development. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Short and Sweet Talk to Your Baby

  1. What great advice! It can be easy for parents to forget to use short and simple phrases throughout the day. Remember children are like sponges and they will soak up everything!

  2. My thoughts exactly! I recently had a parent of a language delayed toddler I was treating tell me that when she ‘googled’ advice on getting her child to talk, all the advice she found recommended ‘narrating life’ to her child. She did this, but with very little results…because her child was language delayed. When she started using more single words and simple phrases with her daughter, the daughter had something she was able to imitate and mom saw this little girl’s language sky rocket!

  3. Kristin says:

    Hi! Thank you so much for your blog…I’ve been looking over it all afternoon, and you have such great information! I have a 15 month old, that doesn’t talk at all- he does babble, point, talk “baby talk”, I know he understands things because when we say “ball” he goes to get his ball, he knows where to point when you say “bellybutton” and things like that, but he isn’t forming complete words. I talked to his doctor at our 12 month visit, and he wasn’t concerned at all. Now we are going to his 15 month visit next week…should I ask his doctor for any in particular? Should I have him tested for a delay or is it still too early to tell? Any advice you can give me would be so appreciated!

    • sherry says:

      Hi, it sounds like your son has a lot of good things going for him with the babble, pointing and understanding speech. If he isn’t saying any words between 15 and 18 months I would consider having him evaluated by a speech pathologist. Your doctor can refer you to someone. Try some of the techniques on my blog such as modeling single words related to what he is doing and pause to see if he will repeat. Goode luck!

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