It’s awkward to talk to someone who doesn’t yet talk back, but the research is clear—there’s a direct link between a child’s intelligence and the number of words spoken to him. In the first few months, your baby is constantly listening to the intonation, rhythm, and patterns of your voice. Even though he can’t understand what you’re saying yet, his brain is laying the groundwork for acquiring language.
Some tips for talking to your baby:
- Reading Try the reading position in the photo above—your baby will take more interest in the book you’re reading if he can see your face, too. It also helps support awkward, slumpy little bodies with your legs.
- House tours When your baby is awake, facing forward in a wrap or with his head turned to the side in a carrier, walk around your house and talk about what you are seeing and experiencing. “House tours” will be a favorite activity throughout the first year.
- Narrate the day for your baby as you move about the house or neighborhood. Tell him about the produce while you are shopping, talk to him while you are changing his diaper. Talk to him face-to-face whenever you can.
- Have a “conversation” If he starts to coo or make any kind of vocalization, talk back to him. Research consistently shows that back-and-forth conversation matters just as much, if not more, than the number of words he hears.
- Sing to your baby, even if you don’t think you have a great voice—your baby will love it because it’s you! Babies tune into singing even more than talking.
- Talk in the slower, higher-pitched, sing-song voice that comes naturally to you when speaking to babies. Babies are pre-programmed to tune into higher tones, and learn more from the stretched out vowels in baby talk.
Are you fascinated by the studies that link IQ to how much language a child hears in his early months and years? We are, too! Check out “The Power of Talk: The impact of adult talk, conversational turns, and TV during the Critical 0 - 4 years of Child Development” here.