Talking with your Baby

Have you ever talked out-loud to yourself? If you are oblivious to your surroundings, then you won’t feel odd doing it. But, if someone catches you, chances are you get embarrassed.

I felt like that when I talked with my baby. While my baby was a totally other person, he hadn’t learned how to respond yet. So, I felt a little daft speaking out-loud to him. It literally felt like I was holding a one-person conversation.

Turns out I’m not the only one to feel that way! Take this for an example, from Johnny Tremain:

It was easy for him to love, and he loved the baby. He would have died before he would have let anyone guess he was so simple, but Aunt Lorne knew. Sometimes she would come into the kitchen quietly and hear Johnny holding long, one-sided conversations with Rabbit. When she came into the room where he was with the child, he would merely say scornfully, ‘Aunt Lorne, I think it is wet,’ and pretend to be lost in his book.

But, the thing is, Johnny wasn’t really having a one-sided discussion and I wasn’t either. And you aren’t when you speak out-loud to your baby, even when he is a newborn. It’s one of the most healthiest thing you can do for your baby because it helps him learn language.


Here are a few reasons why you should talk to your baby and a few tips on how to talk to your baby.

We learn language first from hearing it. Simply put, we learned to speak, and ultimately to read, by first hearing language. By hearing what things are called and by labeling emotions, we learned how communicate. But, without someone doing the mundane task of explaining what is what, it would have taken us longer to understand what a thing is called or what we are feeling. It is helpful to start talking about everything, even our feelings, while our baby is little. Language is best acquired by having quality and concrete interactions with adults. This means, a baby will understand a spoon is a spoon if he or she sees a spoon or is holding a spoon, rather than just an adult speaking about an unseen spoon.

“Parentese” is a way of speaking in which a person accentuates words, drawing them out. Speaking like this with a baby helps to draw attention to the words spoken, making the individual sounds clearer, thus helping the child differentiate words.

Encourage babbling. Babies are trying to speak with you when they babble. Always leave time for them to babble-respond back to you. If you ask them something, look at them and wait for a response. Those looks tell them that we are waiting for them to speak back. It also indicates that what they are trying to say matters to us. That’s a terrific thing for babies to grow up knowing.

Listening to our conversations help babies learn how the in and outs of communication. By talking with our baby, he or she will understand how to have a proper conversation. Infants learn by watching us with others, too. We are teaching them very quietly that conversation involves turn-taking and listening while another is speaking.

Babies also learn that communication goes beyond spoken words. They learn facial cues and body language. And, they will start trying those smiles, frowns, laughs and more to see what responses they get from us.

Read books with your own words. In other words, go beyond the words in the baby books you are reading. Milk the books for all they are worth by pointing out things in the pictures. Just like talking about the things you see on a walk or at home, you are giving meaning to the words you are speaking. A lot of the books that are visually appealing to infants and older babies are not word heavy. However, they are perfect vehicles to point out things not stated in the printed words.

The more words a child hears, the more words he or she will know. The more words a child knows, the more a child can figure out when it comes to reading. So have those “one-person conversations” with your baby. Problem solve your situations out-loud. Talk about body parts when taking baths. Repeat rhymes during your day. Talk about what you’ve read, even if it is just pictures of shapes. Point out signs. Because when you do these simple things, your baby is hearing words and making connections with what is seen and spoken. Ultimately, all of your talking will lead to your baby communicating.

Repeat rhymes. Books are known for having a unique vocabulary. But, people often forget how rich rhymes are in language. Rhymes use special words not heard in everyday life. Like songs, they have a particular cadence to them that can focus a child’s attention and are fun to say. Below I have some examples of fun rhymes you can use with your little one.

Seek out rhymes that use farm animal or vehicle noises. By repeating these rhymes, your child will attempt to make the noises. This is a great thing because they are simple, one syllable sounds. These sounds may not hold much meaning for us, but your child uses them to form proper sayings. Eventually, they will be able to form more advanced words with their mouths.


Here are some of my ultimate favorite rhymes. It was hard to narrow them down, though! They are broken into different categories to suggest in what circumstances to use them. But, they can be done anywhere. Most of these will cause your little one to laugh, which is good, because when your baby is secure, relaxed and happy, he or she will be open to learn.

Rhymes for diaper changing times

Fee Fi Fo Fum

Fee fi fo fum (criss cross legs or arms)

See my fingers, see my thumbs (wiggle your fingers, wiggle thumbs)

Fee fi fo fum (criss cross legs or arms)

Good-bye fingers, good-bye thumbs (put hands behind back)

Fee fi fo fum (criss cross legs or arms)

Hello fingers, hello thumbs (bring hands back out)


Round the Garden

Round and round the garden (draw circles around your baby’s belly button)

Went the teddy bear

One step (inch fingers up to baby’s chest)

Two steps (inch fingers up to baby’s neck)


Tickle you under there! (tickle under baby’s chin)


There Once Was a Bumble Bee

There once was a bumble bee (move a finger around your baby’s belly)

Under the barn (continue moving finger)

With a bag full of cinnamon (continue moving finger)

Under each arm (have your finger trace your baby’s arms)

And when he got there (move your finger to under your baby’s chin)

He went…


Buzzzzzzzz! (tickle under baby’s chin)


Rhymes as bounces

From Wibbleton to Wobbleton

From Wibbleton to Wobbleton is 15 miles, (move baby from your right to left and then bounce up and down on “15 miles”

From Wobbleton to Wibbleton is 15 miles.  (move baby from left to right and bounce)

From Wibbleton to Wobbleton, (move baby from right to left)

From Wobbleton to Wibbleton, (move baby from left to right)

From Wibbleton to Wobbleton is 15 miles. (move baby to right and left and bounce)


Higglety, Pigglety, Pop

This is a lap bounce. It’s just fun to say the words! Repeat it, trying to build up the speed of bounce and of the spoken words until super-fast!

Higglety, pigglety, pop.

The dog has eaten the mop.

The pig’s in a hurry,

The cat’s in a flurry.

Higglety, pigglety, pop.

Rhymes as play with props

I Went to Visit the Farm One Day

I discovered this rhyme from Abby the Librarian. You can use an animal puppet with it. I love making animal sounds with babies. They are easy sounds for babies to repeat. Don’t forget that you can change the animal!

I went to visit the farm one day

I saw a cow across the way.

And what do you think that cow did say?

Moo! Moo!


This is ultimate my favorite blanket or peek-a-boo game! You can do this with the baby on your lap or laying down. I prefer to having them laying down, facing me. That way they can see me, my expression and how the words are formed with my lips. And I also get to see their little smiles! Repeat for however many “clocks” you want to do.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, I’m a little cuckoo-clock. (clap baby’s hands together)

Tick-tock, tick-tock, now it’s almost one-o-clock. (clap baby’s hands together, then make a one with your finger…then swiftly put a blanket/washcloth over baby’s eyes, or use your hands to cover baby’s eyes)

Cuckoo! (lift blanket/washcloth/hands off baby’s eyes)

Two Little Dickie Birds

This little rhyme is great to help introduce opposites. Use any type of opposites you want; the possibilities are endless.

Two little dickie birds sitting in a tree (show your baby your two pointer fingers)

One named Loud, the other named Quiet (bring one pointer out and say Loud loudly; then bring out the other pointer and say Quiet quietly)

Fly away Loud. Fly away Quiet. (hide Loud behind your back; hide Quiet behind your back)

Come back Loud. Come back Quiet. (bring Loud back from behind your back; bring Quiet back from behind your back)

So let me ask you: do you ever feel strange talking out-loud to your little one?

Don’t forgot to share your favorite rhymes to use with your baby!

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