One of the most important things you can do for your baby's development is start talking to him as early as possible. Many studies support the idea that babies begin learning language long before they utter their first word. Language in general is a mysterious concept to researchers. Somehow, it is built into our brains, and even people from civilizations on remote islands develop language skills similar to those we use in the modern world. Therefore, your baby predisposed to learn how to talk, so fostering his abilities as early as possible will give him an educational edge.

Studies show that even in the womb, your baby is listening. If you talk to your baby frequently during your pregnancy, or even just talk a lot in general, your baby will be able to recognize the sound of your voice when he his born. This is an important first step in the learning process. Research also shows that reading to your baby as early as possible helps him understand the basics of language even before he can understand the meaning. The part of the brain designated for language is extremely complex, so subtleties such as syntax and grammar will have more of an effect than you might think. Many parents don't read to their infants because they feel that the effort is futile. In reality, introducing your infant to the structure of language will allow him to learn how to talk more quickly.

By the time your baby is about two years old, he or she should be able to form short sentences to get the point across. However, don't feel bad if your baby is a slow learner. As long as you continue to teach your child the basis of language to the best of your ability, he will learn in time. This is the ideal time for you to support your baby's learning by supplementing any lessons he or she might be getting at day care and making conversation as much as possible. Even if your child isn't responding to your sentences, you can be sure he or she is listening. The brain is developing at a rapid pace during this stage, and your baby will be eager to learn. By the same token, be careful what you say around your two year old, because there's a good chance it will get repeated at the most inopportune of times.

Source: Apel, Ken et al: Beyond Baby Talk: From Sounds to Sentences. Random House Publications, 2009. Print.