Posted: Mar 31, 2012 10:10 PM
Though your baby will coo and babble from just a couple months old, it will be a long while before he or she's actually able to talk. You don't need to rush your baby's natural development, but you can do a number of things to prepare your baby to talk.

Talk clearly and often

BubbleYour baby might not be old enough to understand what you are saying, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be talking to him or her. Throughout the day, talk clearly, simply and often to your baby. He or she will point, reach, gurgle and coo back to take part in the conversation.

Read picture books to your baby

From the time your baby is born (and even before), you can read books to him or her to get your child familiar with words and language. Read fabric and board books that your baby can explore with his or her hands and mouth while sitting on your lap.

Point out things

As you are talking, look at and point to the things that you are talking about. This will lay the foundation for your baby to identify objects in the future.

Have practice conversations

When you are talking to your baby, act as if you expect him or her to respond. Ask your child a question, pause as if you are waiting for his answer, and then provide an answer yourself. When you are talking, exaggerate your inflection and emotion to make your mood very clear for your baby. When he or she coos, coo back to mimic conversation as well. These activities will help your baby learn to communicate.

Sing songs and play games

From "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" to peek-a-boo, nursery rhymes, songs and games will encourage your baby to talk. If you repeat the same songs and rhymes regularly, your baby will try to "sing along" with coos and syllables.

Cause for concern

If your baby doesn't coo or babble at all, or you suspect a hearing problem, consult your pediatrician. The doctor will assess your baby's development, diagnose any medical conditions and order further tests if necessary. Speech therapists can begin working with children from infancy. Therefore, you should try to have an evaluation and begin therapy as soon as possible, if necessary.

More about baby development

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Baby development: The importance of crawling
Fun ways to chronicle your baby's development