Talking to your newborn

Once your baby is born, one of the best things you can do is to get up close and let them watch your face as you talk.

Babies all develop at different rates, but typically your newborn baby will be able to focus on things about 20 to 30 centimetres away. So it's important that you get up close when talking to them. By seeing facial expressions and watching how mouths move as they make sounds, they begin to learn about language.

Over time you should be able to see your baby’s face and body react, and notice them begin to interact with you.

You can support your baby’s speech and language development early on by trying the ideas below.

Get face-to-face and pull faces

Give these suggestions a try when you are talking to your little one:

  • Position you and your baby so you can see each other’s faces clearly. Keep your face animated.
  • Stick your tongue out, blink your eyes and make lip sounds. See if your baby can copy you.
  • Sing songs and rhymes with actions or lots of repetition.

Smile in response to baby’s smiles

You should see your baby react positively to your facial expressions, movements and gestures. Early on, you may see your baby move their head to face your voice.

Talk in soft tones using baby talk

Talk to your baby about anything and everything in a gentle, even voice. Dinner and bathtime are good opportunities to start a ‘conversation’.

Gently change the sound of your voice

Vary your voice to make it slower or quicker, higher or lower, quieter or louder. Talk to them in an animated, tuneful voice with lots of smiles, laughter and facial expressions.

Get others to talk to your baby

Your whole family should be encouraged to communicate with the newborn. Let your partner, friends and baby’s siblings all do the above.

Notice when your baby needs quiet time

Sometimes babies aren't in the mood to make sounds or respond. They may need to take a break from all the stimulation. They may turn away, close their eyes, or become fussy or irritable. If this happens, let your little one rest from your talking and maybe just have a cuddle.

For advice for the early months, plus a guide to maternity service options across Kent and Medway, visit the Bump, Birth & Beyond website section about after the birth.