Speech and language lessons start in the uterus, where your developing
baby hears and responds to familiar voices. Indeed, soon after birth, your baby
prefers and responds more to the mother's voice than to any other. Also, your
newborn can recognize whether sounds are part of his or her native language.
Your newborn continues to learn language by listening to the basic
and distinct sounds (phonemes), such as the "tr" and "cl" sounds in the English
language. Your baby remembers sounds and continually learns more nuances of
language, which are later expressed when he or she begins to talk.
Babies learn language skills through frequent interaction, such as
reading and being talked to. Newborns respond to "baby talk," which is a
higher-pitched, slower speech with emphasis placed on alternating words. Most
parents instinctively speak this way to their newborn, gradually incorporating
normal speech patterns and pitch.
You provide comforting contact when you read to your baby. Establishing a reading
routine early helps make future reading comfortable and fun.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics