Your baby 0-1 year

Baby language: how to answer him


A smile, an "areu!", A first word, a story ... as you learn language, you are the privileged interlocutor of your little one. And he is waiting for answers to progress. Here's how to help him at every step of this great adventure.

At birth

For the moment, your newborn baby is just screaming and crying. But, already, his first vocal manifestations can take on different meanings, from hunger to pain to nerves. This is communication. You can also see that the voices he perceives around him do not leave him indifferent. He immediately begins to extract sounds from the words he hears, even if, of course, he is not at all aware of what he is doing.

How to answer him?

  • Talk to him! We know thanks to the researchers that he does not hesitate to dissect and analyze all the sounds present in the messages you send him!
  • Introduce it to all other forms of nonverbal communication: the look, the gestures, the touch, the expressions of the face. They are very important supports of language, which can not exist without them.

About 2 months

It is the revolution of the "areu" ... or "agueu", everything depends on the children! Your baby is now sounding the length of an exhalation: he is doing a sort of vocal sigh. He accidentally discovers his sonic productions and experiments them little by little. He recognizes his mother tongue very well, despite his young age. He even seems to prefer it!

How to answer him?

  • Answer without counting and without complex to his "areu"!
  • Do not hesitate to adopt this voice so characteristic that moms naturally when they address their toddler: high pitched and very melodious. Specialists call it the "motherese" (from the English mother, "mother"). It seems that babies love it and prefer it to a "flat" tongue!

Around 4-5 months

He starts singing. You are now entitled to "ahahaha" in all shades! Your baby conducts his small experiments, compares bass and treble, shrieks to whispers. He trains. Victory, he recognizes his name! And when he hears a sentence in which a break is taken at an inappropriate place, your baby is surprised. He prefers a normal rhythm.

How to answer him?

  • Vocalize! By repeating the sounds he emits, by imitating them, you make him aware that he enters the world of language.
  • Wait until he has finished "talking" to get you started. You thus establish the basic rules of verbal communication: listening to each other, going back and forth between the protagonists of a conversation.
  • Vary the intonations and melodies as much as possible (he loves it!): The sweet little voice of the hug, the soft whisper, the more assertive tone of "Drink your bottle!".

Around 8-10 months

Farewell vocalizations, hello babbling! Your toddler is no longer satisfied with singing vowels alone, he associates them with a consonant. Hence the rosaries of "papapapa" or "babababa". Then, babbling becomes more complex and it is not uncommon, around 9 months, to see him opt for more varied combinations. He has just tamed the syllable, the basic unit of the language. He proves that he is able, if not to memorize words he hears regularly, at least to recognize them. To understand, he relies heavily on the context in which the words are pronounced.

How to answer him?

  • Enjoy all the situations of everyday life to put them in words: "I prepare your puree", "the cat sleeps".
  • Theatricalize your words, make gestures, show the objects, accentuate the intonations. Remember that your child uses the context to infer the meaning of what you are telling him.
  • Avoid the "talking baby", which distorts the words or invents.
  • Immerse your toddler in a bath of language without drowning! Moments of silence are indispensable for him to digest all he hears and to appropriate the language.

Isabelle Gravillon