While it may not seem that talking to your baby has any immediate effects, it actually does! Babies’ brains grown three times their birth size in the first three years of life. During that time, the brain acts like a sponge, soaking up sights, sounds, experiences, and feelings which contribute to their overall childhood development.
Spending time talking with your child is a great bonding experience and has long-lasting effects for years to come. This face-to-face time also releases a bonding hormone called oxytocin which encourages stronger social interactions and parent attachment.
It can feel exhausting sometimes to think about narrating a scene or telling a story, especially at the beginning. But there are plenty of opportunities to share new words and sounds with your baby, like during meals, changing diapers, during bath time, and right before bed.
So what should you talk about with your developing baby?
Studies show that using a lot of different words of varying complexity, length, and meaning can help your child develop a larger vocabulary later on. While patterns and repetition are helpful for language learning in the toddler years, steering away from “predictive language” encourages your child to learn and understand a wider variety of words.
You don’t have to limit your baby chatting time to just face-to-face moments. Talk about what you see during car rides or tell a story on your daily walk. The more often babies can be exposed to new words, the better. At a loss for words? Baby talk is ok, too! Studies show that adult baby talk can help babies start talking faster.
Talking is critical to childhood development, but the benefits extend beyond words. The personal connection between human beings is something that can’t be learned from a tablet or a television screen. Just because your baby isn’t talking yet doesn’t mean your conversations are one-sided. Facial expressions, sounds, body language, and other non-verbal cues lead to other brain developments, including social and emotional.