Ideas to remind whānau to listen to the noises pēpi is making. Whānau can encourage early conversations and aid in the development of the language areas of baby's brain.

A baby communicates in a variety of ways:

  • body language
  • facial expressions
  • crying
  • other sounds.

Ask whānau:

  • How is pēpi communicating with you?
  • What kinds of sounds have you noticed pēpi making recently?
  • Have you noticed how their body language changes as they develop?

Why copying baby’s sounds is important

Look at the ‘copy my sounds’ picture on the Tākai baby frieze together.

  • Why do you think this is important?

Read page 17 in the Whakatipu booklet Te Pihinga 1, ‘whānau say’:

“When we copy the sounds pēpi makes it invites her to kōrero more. We’re taking turns just like in a real conversation.”

Language areas of the brain are stimulated when parents talk and copy baby’s sounds. It reminds whānau to pay attention and listen to the noises that baby is making — and by repeating them back, whānau are encouraging early conversations.

  • How do you get baby’s attention?
  • Do you use words or sounds?
  • What words and sounds do you use?

Speak in parentese

Babies pay more attention to the style of speech known as ‘parentese’. This means talking more slowly, exaggerating mouth movements, and using a higher pitch.

A young baby’s brain is able to process this style of speaking more easily.

Other tips on communicating with pēpi

There’s more information about learning to talk and having conversations in Te Pihinga 1.

For example, page 21 explains the importance of being face-to-face with baby when we talk, so they learn to match which mouth movements go with the sounds they hear.

Talk with whānau about what else is happening for pēpi during their early communications.

  • Pēpi learn to understand language much earlier than they can speak it.
  • By having conversations, pēpi learn about taking turns and sharing.
  • Pēpi may practise making sounds when they’re on their own too.

Babies who hear language used often, in everyday loving interactions, are more likely to do well at school and become confident, self-motivated learners.

Helpful resources for whānau