Infants can recognize the difference in sounds at a very early age. Extensive studies have shown that a 24-week-old baby can distinguish between very similar sounds like ‘Tah’ and ‘Pah’. Infants tend to recognize words much earlier than they can speak them. The language that a baby hears for a long time will become his native language after a period of much babbling. This happens at a very gradual pace. First of all, the infant learns to use his facial expressions and gestures to express himself. Then, he picks certain words, which mean a lot to him and tries to speak them in is own improvised way.
Does an infant talk to himself ?
Yes, very true. An infant has a very complex life of his own. Whenever a baby babbles alone, he is actually talking to himself only. He associates his feelings with certain words and repeats them in a variety of styles. He cannot understand what you are saying until he is a few months old. If your baby seems dumb in the presence of strangers, it is because he is confused and nervous on seeing new faces. It does not mean that he lacks understanding at that particular moment of time.
Speak to your baby very clearly
Your baby cannot understand you even a little bit if you speak in your normal tone. You have to speak slowly and lay stress on specific words that you think appeal to your baby the most. Many a time it happens that your baby uses a same sound like ‘Tah’ for a variety of things. Don’t discourage him from doing this. This is one of his initial steps in language learning. Slowly and gradually, he would be able to differentiate between different sounds for different objects. Sometimes it happens that once you approach our baby, he starts emitting gurgling sounds with increased frequency. This is also a good step because the infant recognizes that here is someone to whom he can convey his feelings. This babbling is also a very good exercise for his vocal chords.
Don’t use baby talk
Some parents tend to use baby talk with their infants because they believe that it is what their child would understand as he cannot understand full fledged words. This is a misconception and is dangerous for the proper speech development of your baby. If you keep continuing your baby talk over a long period of time, your baby may become proficient in this only. Then he would not be able to appreciate the proper sounds of words.
Vocabulary improves with age
You, as a parent, need not speak excessively to your baby. Each child has a u\unique way of grasping language and the pace of speech development also cannot be generalized with great accuracy. As a rule of thumb, by the time your baby is one year old, he would be able to speak certain words with remarkable clarity. Some children can even speak very small sentences around this age period. It has been seen that babies who get a lot of exposure to children (who have learnt to speak well) as well as adults develop speech power comparatively early.