How to Help Promote Baby Speech Development

Although your baby won’t be able to start verbalizing her thoughts until she’s around 7 to 12 months, she may start to mumble that “oh” and “ah” you’ve been waiting to hear. The activities and choices you make from her birth can start her on the right baby development path, giving her the tools she needs to achieve her speech development.

Making just a few small adjustments to your daily routine can make a big difference. Keep these in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to helping your baby form her first words.

Make everything a story
Even before your baby can start speaking on her own, she will understand more language than you can imagine. Between the ages of 8 and 12 months, you might notice that she seems to comprehend what you say. For example, when you mention that “dada” is coming home, your baby may become noticeably more excited. Or if you tell your baby that you’re going outside together, she may squeal or laugh with delight.

That’s why it’s crucial to make everything a conversation with your baby: You’ll help increase her understanding of the world around her. When you’re making dinner, tell her what ingredients you’re using. When on a walk, explain all the animals and types of stores you’re passing. Be simple and specific in the words you use, and be consistent. If your family dog is a puppy today, don’t call him a pup tomorrow.

Pick the right books
You can’t go wrong with any type of book, really, but picture books are especially helpful when it comes to helping your baby with her speech development. Use picture books as a way to reinforce the fact that everything has a name. Don’t be afraid to repeat the same items, names, and photos over and over again.

Make it a two-way conversation
Even if your baby is only in the very beginning stages of her speech development and all she can manage is a few coos every now and then, always take the time to give her a chance to join in on your chat. Ask questions and wait for her to respond. Even a seemingly meaningless exchange between you and your baby is teaching her that it takes two people to communicate and that you’re happy to have her be part of the conversation.

Be careful with baby talk
You’ll probably start to notice quickly how your chatter with your baby takes on a form of its own. Infant-directed speech, as it’s sometimes called, is when a parent uses simple sentences, usually coupled with a higher pitch and exaggerated intonation, when speaking with babies.

While it has been shown that this type of speech can help infants learn to speak, try not to get carried away. Using simple, exaggerated sentences is fine but do your best not to repeat “incorrect” words that your baby might use while she’s in the middle of her speech development. Instead, repeat back the correct word to her, and eventually she’ll pick up on the difference.

As long as you’re keeping up the daily conversations with your baby, you just might be surprised by how quickly her speech develops.