Teaching your baby to talk is no easy feat. Most children say their first word between 10 to 18 months of age. That’s a big range! So if you feel like your child isn’t hitting this milestone, you may not need to worry.

There are many activities you can try as a new parent to encourage your child to talk. Soon enough they’ll go from getting a syllable out to 2-3-word sentences and then even more complex conversation.

Some of these activities you can start while your baby is still in the womb. Others can be added to your routine as your baby develops their communication skills and comprehension.

Read & Talk To Your Baby

Sing, talk, and read to your baby even before they’re born. Your baby will hear you, and even when they can’t understand you, you’re laying the foundation for them to begin forming associations with these sounds. Telling stories is also useful as your baby’s vocabulary begins to expand. It keeps them more engaged than the passivity of a screen.

Use adult language instead of baby-talk. It may be tempting to use cute voices (because how can you not?), but the more they hear you speak naturally, the easier it will be for them to pick it up. This is also why early childhood is the best time to learn multiple languages. Repetition is helpful!

Narrate Your Actions

Sometimes parenting can feel like a running monologue as you go through your own checklist. Verbalizing your thoughts can actually help your baby’s language skills progress. Tell them what you’re doing as you do it.

For example, “I’m scrubbing the pan that had our lasagna in it so that it’s clean for us to use again.” You’re turning a routine chore into a learning experience for your baby.

Name Objects

Similar to narration, if you name all of the objects you’re using with your baby each time you use them, you can also reinforce language associations and help them improve their vocabulary. Instead of using vague pronouns, use “the ball.”

Parents who wonder how to get their baby to babble can use this technique to get some of those syllabic noises going.

Use Songs & Music

Nursery rhymes and songs are catchy because they have a simple beat and rhymes. Your baby can begin to babble along to you singing and the music, and eventually this may progress into syllables from the songs and then the whole song itself.

Music and noise are also great ways to keep a baby active and engaged in something. The repetition in many baby-focused songs can be a solution to how to get your baby to talk early.

Limit Screen Time

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 18 months have no screentime beyond video chatting. While you could assume that hearing the language in television shows or movies can help your baby’s verbal skills develop, it’s not the same as talking to you or a caregiver. They can pick up other concepts from TV, but early talking just isn’t one of them. Language learning at that age is best when it is reciprocal.

Make It A Dialogue

On that note, you can begin to create conversations with your baby even before they are fully verbalizing. Simple acts like giving expectant pauses that they can fill in with sounds, babble, or words let them know that you want them to talk to you and respond.

You can also expand their sentences. If your child is at the single word stage and is requesting their toy, you can respond with “Yes, this is your train. It goes toot-toot!” They’ll pick this up and eventually begin to mimic you.

Limit Or Reduce Pacifier Use

This one is pretty simple. If you want to know how to encourage your baby talk sooner, you have to give them the opportunity.

Your baby can’t talk or try out new syllables and words if something is in their mouth. Try to keep the pacifier or thumb-sucking behavior to bedtime.

Incorporate Movement

Remember, communication isn’t just verbal. And for those of you who have babies who are driven by touch or action, movement can be a major motivator in learning language. Have them sing a song while bouncing around your house or running a pillow obstacle course. Narrate their actions. Or try naming and pointing to their body parts. You can also use the gestures that accompany many nursery rhymes to add to their understanding.

Start Small

Your baby will progress from syllables to words to phrases to sentences. Trying to make your child begin a conversation as soon as they hit ten months is just overly ambitious. You can repeat their sounds and expand the word (e.g., follow “buh” with “ball”). Give them time to grasp sounds before trying to get them to achieve the next language milestone.

Celebrate Their Achievements

When your baby learns a new word or starts stringing together phrases, get excited. Their brains have just done something big, and your warm smile will keep motivating them. You can clap, dance, or do a silly cheer. You want your little one to think that talking more is fun.

Make sure that you share these ideas and all the knowledge you’ve gained about your baby with your friends, family, and caregivers. The more people who engage your baby in talking, the better. Expand your village and find a babysitter or nanny on Sittercity. They can be a support system in helping your child to grow and giving you a break at the same time.

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