How do babies and toddlers learn words from repetition?

As a parent, have you ever stopped and wondered why your child likes to hear the same book again? Or sing the same song? Or follow the same routine?

It's because babies' and toddlers' brains need repetition to learn and thrive.

Your child's brain is ready to learn from day one, constantly making neural connections with every new experience. They don't just learn these new things immediately though...the more times they experience it, the stronger these connections (or synapses) become.

Watch the video below to find out what happens in your baby's brain when they hear words over and over and over again.

Why is repetition important for your child's development?

  • Repetition increases confidence and strengthens the connections in the brain that help children learn.
  • Repetition helps their brain make connections between words and objects.
  • Some studies suggest repeating words helps toddlers break up speech into individual words.
  • Repetition provides the practice that children need to master new skills.
  • It's not just language! Repeating movements can improve coordination.

What words should you repeat?

In your everyday life, you shouldn't worry too much about repeating specific words.

Your child will benefit from hearing as many words as possible, and by chatting to them all the time, you will naturally start to repeat things.

You can think about emphasising certain words that you notice you are using a lot or that your child is interested in.

If your child is playing with a certain toy, this is a great opportunity to repeat words linked to that toy. This will help them build a sensory connection between sight and sound in their brain.

If your child understands certain words or uses gestures to show them but cannot say them yet, repetition could be really useful.

For example, if your child raises their arms to be picked up but doesn't say the word “up”, you could repeat the word “up” when they make the gesture.

There are lots of different types of words that children need to understand when learning a language. As well as names, there are action, describing, location and feeling words (and many more!).

Repeating words naturally during your interactions will make sure your child is hearing a wide range of these word types and this, ultimately, is what will build the brain connections needed for language learning.

Although your child talks really simply to start with, you can help them learn by expanding their language.

Helping your toddlers language development

When your toddler starts to talk, it can be an overwhelming time for parents, as you question how best to respond to them. Here are three articles that will help:

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