How you help your little one thrive

We all want our little ones to gain language skills that set them up for lifelong success, but did you know that talking, reading and signing to your child each provide unique benefits that help your baby’s brain to grow?

Responding to their sounds

Responding to your baby through speech, even when her babbles don’t make much sense to you, can actually help speed language development. Baby: “Goo, goo?” Mama: “Oh yes, you’re right sweetie, I should look that recipe up on Google.”

Singing songs

Researchers also believe that babies gain new insights about how words work when you sing to them. Another reason to Rock A Bye, Baby.

Reading early on

And new research demonstrates that reading books to baby, even from the first week of life, introduces baby to a wider range of vocabulary words than spoken language alone. Goodnight Moon, anyone?

Too Small to Fail Initiative

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The Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail initiative are leaders in early childhood literacy, and are bringing Motherly’s readers tips on ways that you can incorporate more talking, singing and reading into daily life with your little one.

Narrate your day to baby

When they coo, coo back. Your touch and voice help your baby learn. Listen to the fun sounds your baby makes and repeat them. When they coo, coo back. Hold their hand gently and when they smile, smile back. Your loving touch combined with this back-and-forth “baby language” are the first steps in talking.

Talk about what you see

Everywhere you go, talk about what you see and what your baby is looking at: “Wow, I see the four dogs, too!” “I love that red truck you’re playing with. It goes beep beep!”

Play peek-a-boo

Play “Peek-a-boo” while getting your baby dressed. Ask, “Where’s (baby’s name)?” when you pull a shirt over your baby’s head. Then say, “There you are!”

Describe taste, feel, & look

As you feed your baby, use words to describe what foods taste, feel, and look like. “This yogurt is smooth.” “That yellow banana is sweet!”

Look into your baby’s eyes

Looking into your baby’s eyes, holding your baby’s hand, and talking to your baby in a high voice are all ways that you can help your child grow up to be a confident, loving adult.

Read books to your little one

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Tell a story

Read a book or tell a story to your baby every day – in whatever language you feel most comfortable – beginning at birth.


Cuddle with your baby as you share a book. It doesn’t matter how young your child is; even newborn babies are learning when their parents read with them.

Point to pictures

Point to the book’s pictures: “Look, the train goes choo-choo!” Using words to describe what you see builds language.

Don’t forget to sing!

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Sing lullabies

Hold your baby close during bedtime and sing a favorite song again and again. Singing the same song can help your baby feel calm and safe.

Sing silly songs

Sing silly songs about your day to help get your baby’s attention during diaper changing. Your baby loves to hear your voice even if you think you can’t sing! The sound of your voice is comforting to your baby.