Communication 101: Talk, Read, Sing!

Good communication helps make your family relationships strong, and it’s never too early to communicate with your baby. Long before he can speak, your baby is listening and learning sounds, connecting what he sees to what he hears. From birth, using words with your baby helps build bonds and boost brain development. Here are some ideas to help your child build language skills and become a great communicator by talking, reading and singing together from the start:

  • Talking. At birth, a baby knows the sound of her mother’s voice, and soon recognizes others in the family. Speaking and responding to your infant’s coos and babbling lets her know she is important to you. Studies show that the more words a baby hears, the better her language development and chances for school success. Observing and commenting on experiences, from seeing a bird outside to hearing the wind in trees to feeling a soft toy, are great opportunities for the earliest conversations. As children begin to use words, asking questions and opinions build self-esteem and vocabulary.
  • Reading. Research shows that reading aloud for just 30 minutes a day dramatically improves chances for school success. To start, get sturdy board or cloth books with lots of pictures and simple rhymes–look for counting, alphabet, or search-and-find books–and read for short periods of time. Talk about the pictures, ask your child questions, and allow him to turn the pages. Children often like to hear the same book over and over, which enhances vocabulary and understanding. Visit the library, read at bedtime, and practice “on-the-go” read-alouds with your child, from street signs to menus.
  • Singing. Singing builds language skills and vocabulary—and it’s fun! Sing lullabies and do finger plays like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” make up silly songs with your child to coincide with activities like hand-washing or brushing teeth, and introduce your own favorite tunes to your little one. Do a family sing-along in the car or after dinner. Creating a special song just for your child that uses his name helps him feel special.

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