Menu

How to help your baby talk

10 ways parents can support infant language development

How to help your baby talk

Whether your baby is almost babbling, just saying strings of babble while pointing at something he likes, or seems to be having a chat with you, the emergence of language and communication is how he begins to interact with others and the world around him. Here's a few ways you can support language and communication from birth through 12 months:

0- 3 Months: Gently begin to engage your baby through words, and consider baby's response to your voice.

In these first few months especially, we want to be sure we are helping baby stay calm and regulated, and we want to help bring them back to a place of calm when they are upset. When we begin to engage with baby through words, we want to be sure we are modulating our voices to match their needs in the moment. If baby is sleepy, or resting, or quiet, parents may want to speak softly and gently. If baby is awake and alert and starting to take an interest in the world around them, parents may want to speak in a still gentle, but slightly louder tone, perhaps even with a higher pitch (aka “mothereese").

3-6 Months: Take baby's babbling as intentional and expand on what baby is saying. Begin to read books!

Baby is beginning to make sounds and beginning to babble – first with single sounds (i.e. ma!) and then reduplicated (or repeated) sounds (i.e. mama!). Parents can expand on baby's emerging babbling by adding a sound, a word or a few words to what baby has already shared. Parents should also take baby's babbling as intentional – meaning that they presume the babbling is meaningful. For a parent taking both tips into account, an interaction may look like this: Baby may say “Pa!" when Grandpa is in the room. Mama may want to say “Yes! Papa!" And point to Grandpa while she is smiling. Mama has both presumed babbling is intentional and she has expanded on what baby is saying. Baby feels both validated and pleased and a very positive cycle can continue as a result. This is also a great time to introduce books (though it is never too early)! Reading books together can help promote language development and learning.

6-9 Months: Have conversations that relate to what your baby is sharing.

Baby is now babbling more and is engaging with the world around him in many ways. This is a great time for conversations! For example baby says “bababa" and mommy may respond “bababa?" Then baby might say “ba!!" and mama might say “Really? Ba! Ba!" and on it goes. The goal is to slowly get more and more “back and forths" going with baby – so they say something, you respond, they say something in response, and on it goes. These first “conversations" are immensely important to healthy language and communication development.

9-12 Months: Give meaning to what baby is saying and talk with baby in a meaningful way.

All the tips shared up to this age still apply, but now we also want to give meaning to what baby is sharing. For example baby says “chee!! Chee!!" And daddy might respond “Yes, we're having delicious cheese – it's right here!" We want to talk with baby more about routines, daily activities, and more in simple yet language rich manner that is appropriate for their age.

Additionally, here's two things to keep in mind for all ages of infancy (and beyond!)

  1. Eliminate technological toys for the very young. Babies do not need technological toys. In their Health Initiative on Media, The American Academy of Pediatrics notes: “A child's brain develops rapidly during these first years [under 2 years of age], and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens." Babies need to learn from and in their environments. It's critical that they not be passive “watchers" of technology, but instead that they are actively engaging in play with real toys and books, and that they are actively engaging (and being engaged) by the people who are close to them.
  2. Be responsive. It is critical that a baby at any age not be left to “cry it out" or to lay alone for hours on end when they are awake. Babies need human interaction and caring, and they need to feel the reassurance and love of their parent/caregiver. Reassuring baby and holding them close makes them feel safe and allows them to recover more quickly from what was upsetting them (presuming the diaper has already been changed, they have been fed, etc.). If baby feels safe and calm they have more energy left to spend on producing language and communicating with those around them.

Remember that every baby develops differently and the above age ranges are only guidelines. You may find these tips helpful before or after the age range listed. If you any specific language concerns it may be helpful to speak with your pediatrician and/or a pediatric speech pathologist. And don't forget - remember to have fun with your little one!

Image source.

In This Article

    These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

    It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

    When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

    But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

    I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

    So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

    It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

    But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


    Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


    Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

    Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

    Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

    Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


    This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

    Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

    Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

    Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

    Keep reading Show less
    News

    Cameron Diaz on having a baby at 47: 'You really have to work hard for it'

    "The only pressure for me now is I have to live to be, like, 107, you know? No pressure!"

    This is the decade that saw the face of first-time motherhood change. The number of first-time mamas under 30 is shrinking, while more and more women are becoming moms after 40.

    Cameron Diaz is one of them. The actress and businesswoman, now 48, became a mom in January at the age of 47. In a new episode of Naomi Campbell's YouTube series, No Filter, Diaz opens up about what it's like to become a mom in your fourth decade.

    "A lot of people do it the other way around ... they get married [and] have a family in their youth," says Diaz."I'm kind of doing it in the second half of my life."

    Keep reading Show less
    News