baby's first word

First words: 3 tips for teaching baby to talk

Your baby’s first words

One of the most important milestones as a parent is when your little one says their first word. Was that English or just baby gibberish you just heard? Did they say ‘good’ or just ‘goo’? Which will come first, ‘ma-ma’ or ‘da-da’? There’s no denying that it’s an exciting time, and you can’t wait to experience it.

But, sometimes, you do have to wait. Like most aspects of parenting, there’s no set age when all babies start talking. Many say it’ll likely be between 12 and 18 months, but it could be earlier. According to Speech and Language UK, if your baby hasn’t said their first words by 18 months, it’s worth seeking advice from a specialist.

However, if you are eager to get your baby talking, have a go at using CAR. CAR is our simple acronym for teaching little ones to talk, and it stands for Conversation, Association, and Repetition.

1. Conversation

This may seem self-explanatory, but it’s an absolutely essential part of learning words and sentences. Though your baby may not understand all of what you’re saying, they’re picking up a lot more than you think, and keeping them included in a conversation can help them learn. Instead of talking to yourself or your partner when you’re looking after your little one, talk directly to them. Give them eye contact, and try to talk at their eye level – they can start to pick up on body language and mimic how you form words.

Another great way to converse with your baby is by asking them questions, then giving them easy choices which they can repeat. For example, ask what they would like to snack on, then follow it up by asking ‘would you like an apple, or a banana’, holding up each fruit as you say it. This can be done with drinks, food, toys, clothes and more. This helps your baby to learn both how to say the words, and what context to use them in. This brings us nicely onto the second tip…

2. Association

Connecting language with the world around you can help your little one develop a better understanding of words and their meaning. When you’re picking something up in front of your baby, show them and say its name out loud, like a cup or a hat. You’ll likely find that they start pointing and gesturing at things that they want, which is a great opportunity to encourage your baby to say its name instead.

There are a number of resources available to help you with word associations, or you can make your own! Flashcards, posters, videos and picture books can be really helpful with words and their meanings. The important thing is to have patience – everything is new to your baby, and they have a whole lot of learning to do in their little heads!

3. Repetition

That being said, you’ll find yourself repeating things over and over and over again. This is all part of the process, and can be incredibly beneficial when learning to talk! Using the same words and phrases repeatedly will help to reinforce them in your baby’s mind, and eventually they will start to say it back. In the same vein, you can encourage them to repeat words that they’ve said before to help them learn and remember.

We should warn you – long, tiring sessions spent repeating ‘ma-ma’ or ‘bo-ttle’ can make you forget how to speak like a normal adult. If you have to nip to the shops, try not to speak to the cashier in baby-talk!

For more advice and parenting tips, you can find plenty of articles over on our blog.


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