Related to
Early Years

By Keryn O’Neill, MA PGCertEdPsych, Knowledge Manager 

You already know that your baby needs good food to grow a healthy body. Did you also know you can help grow their brains when you talk with them? 

Words and aroha make a huge difference.

Turn the page for some tips that may help you and your whānau talk with your baby – and talk in ways that really set them up to do well.

Watch and listen to your baby 

Long before your baby can say words, they are still ‘talking’ to you. In fact, they are doing this from birth. When he looks at or points to something, he is telling you something. When she starts babbling she is talking to you as well. Like anything else they will learn, the more your baby practices ‘talking’ with you and their whānau, the more they will learn.

Chat with your baby 

The more you talk with your baby, the better. Talk as you feed or bath them. Talk some more while you hang out the washing or wait for the doctor. The supermarket is the perfect time to chat. There are so many sights, sounds, and colours to talk about. Name and describe what you are both seeing. Just like we need different types of food, babies need lots of different words. Talking during all the activities of your day, and places you go, helps make sure this happens.

Use YOUR language 

Amazingly, babies are born able to hear all the sounds in the languages of the world!

Your baby will learn best when you use the language you know best. Other people in your whānau might speak different languages, and that’s great too. Babies can learn more than one language. Use the language(s) that matter to you. As often as you can.

Take Turns Talking 

Know someone who does all the talking and you don’t get to say much? Babies don’t like that either! Just like talking with an adult, great chats with baby go two ways, back and forth. When you talk, notice how your baby listens and watches you.  

Read books 

Reading books with your baby helps them in so many ways. One of the great things about books is that they use lots of different words your baby won’t hear every day. Being read to lots also means they will be better able to learn to read when they get to school. Babies and books – they’re an awesome combination!  

Start early 

It’s NEVER too early to start talking and reading with your baby. From birth is best. If your child is older start now, the sooner the better. 

First Published 2017