When your baby learns to talk, it’s normally a process which starts at birth when they can experience and try to understand how voices sound. By age 2, most babies actually have a wide vocabulary and can start putting words and phrases together to express their needs and ideas. Here is what you can do to try and encourage your baby’s ability to communicate.

From birth to 3 months

At this stage your baby is listening to your voice. They will try and imitate your voice by making coo noises and gurgling. You can help your baby learn how voices sound by:

  • Singing to your baby. You can do this even before they are born! Your baby will hear you and will love the sound of your voice.
  • Talk to your baby as if you were talking to another adult. Gradually they will start to pick up proper words if you have a normal conversation with them. Talk to others when your baby is near. They won’t understand the words, but will like your voice and your smile. They will enjoy hearing and seeing other people, too.

From 3 months to 6 months

Your baby is learning how people talk to each other and is understanding speech more. You can help them become a “talker” when you:

  • Hold your baby close so he will look into your eyes and talk to them and smile.
  • When your baby babbles, imitate the sounds. If they try to make the same sound you do, say the word again and again for them to listen to.

From 6 months to 12 months

Your baby will start to make sounds. Some of these sound like words, such as “baba or “dada.” Baby will smile when hearing a happy voice, and cries or looks unhappy on hearing an angry voice. Your baby will begin to understand simple words. She stops to look at you if you say “no-no.” If someone asks “Where’s Mommy?” she will look for you. She will point, make sounds, and use her body to “tell” you what she wants. You can help your baby understand words (even if they can’t say them yet) by:

  • Playing games like Peek-a-Boo. Help her move her hands along with the rhyme.
  • Give them a toy and say something about it, like “Feel how fuzzy Teddy Bear is.”
  • Let her see herself in a mirror and ask, “Who’s that?” If she doesn’t respond, say her name.

From 12 months to 18 months

Babies begin to use words. This includes using the same sounds consistently to identify an object, such as “baba” for bottle or “juju” for juice. Many babies have one or two words and understand 25 or more. Your child will use more complex gestures to communicate with you and will continue to build her vocabulary. She may take your hand, walk you to the bookshelf, point to a book and say “buk” to say, “I want to read a book with you.” You can help your child talk with you by:

  • Tell her “Show me your nose.” Then point to your nose. She will soon point to her nose. Do this with toes, fingers, ears, eyes, knees and so on.
  • Ask your child questions about the pictures in books. Give your child time to name things in the picture.
  • Build on what your child says. If he says “ball,” you can say, “That’s your big, red ball.”
  • When he points at or gives you something, talk about the object with her. “You gave me the book. Thank you! Look at the picture of the baby rolling the ball.”

If anyone has any other tips on helping babies to talk please feel free to share your advice in the comments section below!