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!