Language Skills: 8 Months

Your child's first words are an important milestone. We tell you how to talk with your baby and encourage her language skills.

Speak In a Singsong Style

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In the meantime, there are several things you can do to "converse" with your baby. One of the most important is what a lot of people call baby talk-using that high, lilting voice that many moms (and some dads, too) seem to adopt naturally when talking to their little ones. Psychologists call it motherese and are discovering that this speaking style plays a vital role in teaching babies about language. In fact, scientists have documented the higher and wider pitch, shorter sentences, longer pauses, and repetition that are characteristic of motherese in many different languages.

How does this singsong speaking style help babies learn to talk? First, it captures a baby's attention and builds a bond of trust between the two of you by letting him know that you are focused completely on him. Motherese also teaches infants some of the rules of language. For example, experts have noted that the exaggerated intonation and selective word emphasis in motherese makes it easier for a baby to know when it's his turn to "talk." These same traits also help your baby sort individual words from the sea of sounds that he hears.

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