(Image courtesy of VersaMe)
When children are born, there are countless things new parents worry about. At first, many people focus on material items that will make the baby comfortable — a crib, stroller, teething toys, onesies, baby bath, soothing lotion, night lights — the list from any new mom’s baby registry can seem endless. As the child grows, other things become more important, like educational toys, music classes, and sufficient exercise.
But if you had to guess the single most important thing you could provide for your baby, what would it be? Beyond the basics of a loving, stable, nurturing environment, the best thing that you can give your young child is the gift of language. According to “The Power of Talking to Your Baby” in the New York Times,
…the key to early learning is talking — specifically, a child’s exposure to language spoken by parents and caretakers from birth to age 3, the more the better. It turns out, evidence is showing, that the much-ridiculed stream of parent-to-child baby talk — Feel Teddy’s nose! It’s so soft! Cars make noise — look, there’s a yellow one! Baby feels hungry? Now Mommy is opening the refrigerator! — is very, very important.
The impact of language on babies and toddlers is so substantial that a lack of sufficient communication over time can lead to a lifetime of deficits. We see the result of a wealth (or dearth) of language in the two ends of the socioeconomic spectrum.
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