Health Library

 

Language Development in Newborns

Topic Overview

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.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Current as of January 10, 2013

Current as of: January 10, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Additional Resources

First Nurse

  • First Nurse: Talk to one of our nurses 24 hours a day for free health care advice, resources and referrals! Call 515-239-6877 or 800-524-6877.
  • Health Library: Search our online library containing information on health conditions, medications, medical tests, and more.

Symptom Checker

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.

Symptom Checker