Many people mistakenly believe language development in children starts when a baby says their first word. And you may think that your baby doesn’t understand a word you say. But your baby understands more than you think! Your newborn baby has an extraordinary ability to interpret your body language and tone of voice.
So by all means talk to your baby, even if you clearly won’t get the response you would from a grown-up. Give a running commentary about the things you are doing: “Let’s change your nappy, that will be nice, won’t it?”
- Carry your child so the two of you enjoy a lot of closeness.
- Talk to your baby – even though your baby may not understand.
- Vary your tone of voice when you talk to your baby.
- Gesticulate when you talk to your baby to make your conversation even more exciting.
- Babies like finger games and rhymes that end with a tickle.
- Stick out your tongue, wait a while, then be amazed when your baby imitates you!
- Show you are listening to your baby by talking calmly, carrying your baby and stroking their back.
Tickle games and nursery rhymes – fun for babies
Vary your tone when you talk – newborn babies tend to prefer a lighter tone of voice.
“Babies like routines because they give the baby a sense of having some control over their surroundings,” explains baby researcher Gustaf Gredebäck at Uppsala Child & Baby Lab. Nursery rhymes and songs are usually popular because they’re predictable yet exciting at the same time.
Interacting with a baby by touch helps the baby to develop their body image. Babies think hands are hugely exciting, and songs involving your and your baby’s hands are fun for babies.
A baby as young as one month old is capable of taking turns.
There are fascinating things to learn about language development in children. A baby as young as one month old is capable of taking turns. They listen to what you say, answer in their own way, listen to your response and reply to that.
It adds interest when you gesticulate at the same time as you talk to your baby and keep in mind that the best distance to see faces is about 30 centimetres.
About language development in children
- Two-hour-old babies want to communicate.
- Both newborn babies and grown-ups see faces best at a distance of 30 centimetres.
- Six-week-old babies can smile spontaneously when they see a face.
- A baby begins ‘taking turns’ when they are one month old.
- A two-month-old baby has learned to adapt their communication to the person they are communicating with.
Text: Anna-Maria Stawrebäck
About the expert in this article
The quotes come from Gustaf Gredebäck, Professor of Developmental Psychology at Uppsala University and Director of Uppsala Child & Baby Lab, Sweden. Professor Gredebäck and his team study how children perceive their surroundings and investigate what happens as children develop different abilities.