Talking to your baby

Right from the beginning, establishing the relationship between you and your baby is very important for helping your baby to trust and learn. Talking to your baby is a key part of the relationship you are building.

Why is it important to talk to my baby?

Your baby is developing language skills right from the early months of their life. A baby can even hear you before they are born. They start learning language by hearing people speak.

Talking to your baby helps develop the parts of their brain that are wired for language.

If your family speaks more than one language, your baby can learn those languages, right from the start. It’s important that you talk to your baby in the language you speak best. In whatever language you speak, use short words, high tones, and facial expressions.

Why is the way I talk to my baby important?

There is a special way of talking to your baby that happens in every language in the world. It includes high tones, short words, accentuated sounds and emphasised facial expressions. This way of talking is described as ‘parentese’. It’s a kind of talking that a baby’s ears tune into most easily.

Talking parentese in the early months makes it easy for your baby to see and hear you. The higher pitch is easier for your baby to hear and they can watch your mouth at the same time as they are listening. They may even try to copy your sounds.

What can I talk to my baby about?

Talk to your baby about anything that is going on, such as:

  • what people are doing and saying
  • who people are
  • what is going to happen next – for example, that a big cuddle or a cool flannel is coming
  • what you are doing with your baby.

Don’t forget to give your baby a chance to talk back to you. When your baby makes a sound, you can make the same sound back – it’s a way of saying “I heard you. I can make the same sound too”. This is a great way to help babies learn about the give and take of conversations. You can build it up as a turn-taking ‘talk’ between the two of you.

Do my feelings affect my relationship with my baby?

Your baby will communicate with you long before they start talking. Body language is important. Your new baby will scan your face for facial movements and practise getting their eyes, ears and brain working together to process what they see and hear.

Your facial expressions, noises and tone of voice along with gestures help your baby start learning all aspects of communication.

As you talk with your baby, you share your feelings with them so they will notice if you are stressed. When you are happy, they are more likely to be happy too.


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