For many parents, talking to their babies doesn’t come naturally.
In fact, it may make them feel silly chatting away to their little tot who isn’t even paying attention, let alone responding…
Its universal knowledge that talking to babies benefits their brain development, social skills, and language emergence.
Okay, but what if I am an introvert who loves silence and cannot deliver a monologue to a baby?
Well, let’s talk about the consequences of not interacting with your baby.
If you don’t talk to your baby, then you deprive them of the opportunity to learn a language and consequently won’t help them speak. They will also miss out on learning new words and understanding their meaning. Furthermore, you limit the exposure to social and emotional growth that comes from face-to-face interaction. And finally, you waste the great occasion to strengthen the bond and develop a deeper connection with your baby.
Late Speech, Language and Sound Emergence
Your little bubba’s speech development is a crucial milestone to watch out for to ensure she is on track.
The typical age at which your baby is expected to say first words like “dada”, or “mama” is around 12 months. And by 2 years they should start using two-word phrases.
But, of course, each child is different when it comes to learning and development. So, a small deviation from this schedule is perfectly normal.
What is essential to note is that parents play a huge role in helping their children hit their speech targets and encouraging them to talk.
A simple daily interaction like reading, singing and talking to their babies – including actions, gestures, and funny faces will make a great deal of a positive difference in their language acquisition.
But why is that so important?
That’s because before babies start forming words, they will first start recognising changes in pitch and volume they hear when you talk. And that’s how they make the connection between, say crying, and their parent’s response. They achieve it by closely listening to their parent’s voices and reactions.
These interactions with parents will also encourage communicating their needs by pointing at things and making sounds. And that’s the foundation for their communication and language development, which is essential for them to talk.
So, by not engaging or interacting with your child, you don’t give them the best opportunity to develop speech and language skills and hit their essential language objective on target.
That’s, of course, if your baby doesn’t suffer from any disorder that may delay speech emergence – that is totally outside your control. These disorders may include autism spectrum disorder, hearing loss, chronic ear infections, trauma, cognitive delay or phonological processing disorder -amongst others. Children with any of these conditions will require professional therapies to help them develop essential language skills.
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Delayed Development of Understanding of the Words
Secondly, if you don’t talk to your baby, you deprive them of the opportunity to develop an understanding of the words and how to use these words in the correct context.
Because how else would they learn these words if nobody talked to them?
If you think watching TV may be a good alternative – think again!
Babies cannot interact with TVs!
Furthermore, they may even struggle to comprehend what they see in this big black box!
Therefore, they won’t learn anything from the TV until they turn 2 years. That’s when their brain will gain the capacity to process digital images. Until that age, it’s better to stay clear of screen time.
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So, to help your baby understand what words mean, you could do the following:
- Keep talking about the things that are interesting to your little one.
- Narrate what you are doing as if you are making a conversation.
- When reading a book, point at objects and say what you see.
- Repeat the words over and over. That’s how babies can learn new words more quickly.
Weaker Relationship With Your Child
When you dedicate your time and undivided face-to-face attention, away from TV or mobile phone – this is proper quality time that helps you connect to your child.
And this quality time doesn’t even require any “formal” activity. It may be simply a conversation, playing, making and eating meals, or having bath time.
These activities will help strengthen the bond between you but will also contribute to the emotional well-being of your little one.
And remember that quality is always above quantity. So no TV in the background or phone in your hand – full attention and eye contact are key factors!
In other words, when you are not talking to your child, you take away the opportunity to spend quality time together, connect and tighten the bond, which has a lasting impact on your relationship.
Reduce the opportunity for Social-Emotional Development
It is not only by kissing and cuddling your child that you express deep affection and love to them.
But by talking and reading to your child, you send them the same message.
And this reassuring message lays a strong foundation for your child to develop their social and emotional skills and boost their confidence.
How does that work?
Social development is nothing but the ability to form relationships from different interactions with others. For babies, the first role models who show them feelings and react to their needs are their parents.
And emotional development is the ability to express feelings about themselves and others. Again – parents play a vital role here. Because for the first 3 years, babies will get the most emotional and social engagement by being with their parents and siblings.
So, by not talking to your child, you hinder their exposure and opportunities to develop on this level.
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Final Few Lines
As a parent, you are your child’s first role model.
She looks up to you.
So, take an active role in your baby’s healthy development.
Talk to your baby as often as you can.
You don’t need to interact during every waking moment, because babies need their own space too.
And remember quality is above quantity.
Because healthy interaction will boost your baby’s language and speech acquisition, promote their social and emotional development and tighten the bond between you.