Talking with babies and toddlers

When children hear a wide variety of words, it improves their understanding of language and increases their vocabulary.

Basic baby talk

  • Talk with baby often, even while you’re doing chores like preparing meals or hanging out the washing
  • Baby talk is best when it’s one on one, so make sure you get alone time with your child
  • Don’t interrupt when your baby tries to speak
  • Look them in the eyes so they know you care and are listening
  • You don’t have to respond with ‘baby talk’. It’s good for a child to hear adult speech and how words sound in conversation
  • Sing whenever you can – while driving, in the shower or making breakfast. You don’t have to be the world’s best singer! Your baby will get used to your voice and be soothed by it.

Talking to your toddler

  • Turn off your devices and the TV so you can focus on your child without distractions
  • Notice what your child is interested in and talk about that object, for example, a favourite toy
  • As they learn to talk, give them time to find the right words. Don’t finish their sentences or interrupt. They need to know that their voice is important too
  • Use natural pauses. Your child will eventually fill in these pauses when their language develops more
  • Make reading fun. Let them choose the books and create a special reading spot if possible
  • Put lots of expression into your voice while speaking or reading to your child. This will keep them interested and engaged. What you talk about isn’t as important as how you talk about it.


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