The more words infants and toddlers hear the better they’ll develop

Experts say the more words children hear as they grow up, the better they will develop into young adults. Kendra Moyses, a senior educator in child and family development says communication should start immediately.

“We want parents talking to them at birth.”

Moyses says talking to your baby in sentences and using words to convey messages or actions is extremely important from day 1.

“Even if infants can’t talk back to you, those babbling sounds they make, that’s the start of conversation. Answer back to them, not so much in baby talk, but we want to actually talk to infants.”

Opportunities to communicate are countless to list because they include simple things like reading a book or singing a song.

MSU human development professor Claire Vallotton focuses on babies from birth to 3 years old. She says narration is an amazing way to get communication started with your baby and it’s simple to do. Parents can narrate in two ways, the first being parallel talk in which parents describe aloud what their child is seeing, hearing or doing.

“That actually builds a rich vocabulary for his actions and behavior,” says Vallotton. “It also helps for the things that are going on in his mind so he starts to get an insight into how behavior and mental states are connected, which build social and emotional skills as well.”

The second type of narration is self-talk, which is when the parent describes aloud the actions he or she is doing with the child watching.

“For example, says Moyses, “As you are changing diapers you should narrate what’s going on because that helps develop language patterns.”

Here is a small list of opportunities for new parents to practice narration: diaper changes, meal time, bath time, preparing meals, and getting dressed.