A recent remarkable research revealed that the way we talk to very young children – the quality of words – is more important than the quantity of words. The babies and toddlers who have benefited from enhanced speech can have, by age 2, a vocabulary twice as large in comparison with their peers who did not get the same kind of stimulation.

There are a few useful tips about how you can boost the language development of your infant:

1. “Parentese”: Speak in a sing-songy voice
Parentese is that high, sing-songy voice people use when talking to babies. Parentese should not be confused with “baby talk”, a method which, in making up nonsense words and sounds, is counterproductive to teach language. In the best form of parentese, normal and appropriate words and sentences are used, but in a sing-songy way.

2. Talk one-on-one
Language teaching is more efficient in one-on-one interactions, when the adult speaks intimately to the baby, using parentese.

3. Engage in conversation
Instead of nonstop talking, you should stay close to the baby, in trying to spark a conversation, to elicit some responses. It’s not just talk, talk, talk at your infant; the goal is to get some great babble back. Now, what to speak about with your baby? There are a few examples: you can talk about what you’re doing, you can be a tour guide, you can tell stories, and you can read aloud.


Picture: Greg and Claire (5 weeks) - (Betty Udesen / Pear Press)