Breast Milk Is Best For Babies

Breast milk is best for babies. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Unnecessary introduction of bottle feeding or other food and drinks will have a negative impact on breastfeeding. At around six months of age (but not before 4 months), infants should receive nutritionally adequate and age-appropriate complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Consult your doctor before deciding to use infant formula or if you have difficulty breastfeeding.

Abbott Singapore fully recognises breast milk’s primacy, value and superiority and supports exclusive breastfeeding as recommended by the WHO.

The content on this website is intended as general information for Singaporean residents only and should not be used as a substitute for medical care and advice from your healthcare practitioner. The HPB recommends that infants start on age appropriate complementary foods at around 6 months, whilst continuing breastfeeding for up to 2 years or beyond to meet their evolving nutritional requirements. If no longer breastfeeding, toddlers can switch to full cream milk after 12 months. This should be complemented by a good variety of solid foods from the four main food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and alternatives). For more information on the nutritional requirements of infants and young children, please visit www.healthhub.sg/earlynutrition.

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When is Your Baby Ready to Start Talking and What You Can Do to Help

Your baby learning to talk is a significant developmental milestone. Find out how you can encourage those first spoken words.


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In your motherhood journey, you will encounter many exciting and significant moments related to your baby’s development. Your little one’s first words are among the most important of these. Hearing “Mummy!” or “Daddy!” for the first time is music to the ears of parents. And while uttering a word or two might seem like a simple task, your baby learning to talk is a complex process that involves both socio-emotional and cognitive development.

A brief overview of baby development in the first year including cognitive ability and function

Your little one’s first year typically heralds some major developmental milestones1 that include crawling, walking, and saying the first words. These skills are intrinsically linked to your child’s physical and cognitive development.1 For example, to be able to crawl and eventually walk, your baby’s gross motor skills need to be at a certain level of development. But gross motor skills alone won’t ensure your child is a competent mover – concurrent brain development is also needed for balance and spatial awareness, and for your little one to keep building on other existing skills while learning new ones.1

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With all these developmental achievements, it’s no surprise that in the first couple of years of your child’s life, cognitive growth is rapid. According to Jean Piaget2 — a twentieth-century psychologist and leader in the study of children’s cognitive growth – from birth to age two, a child’s brain goes through what he terms the sensorimotor stage of development. Here, they learn about their world through actions like looking, listening, and touching.

Complex cognitive abilities and functions also guide the process of your baby learning to talk and uttering those first words.

When do babies start talking?

Your little one’s language skills start to develop even before birth. While in the womb, babies learn to recognise outside noises, especially their mothers’ voices3. Communication takes place in many ways after your child’s birth, like through crying, smiling, babbling, laughing and pointing. But those first spoken words will generally be uttered around your little one’s first birthday4.

Cognitive activities to encourage speech

As you know, one of the ways your little one learns in the sensorimotor stage of development is through listening and observing. These are key when it comes to your baby learning to talk, and you can encourage speech in the following ways:


Talk to your baby

Talking to your baby is one of the best ways to nurture language. When you do, it stimulates parts of your baby’s brain that are connected to language development. Research conducted by Stanford University professor Anne Fernald5 showed that when mothers constantly talked to their little ones from a very early age, by 24 months, these children had bigger vocabularies and were able to speak more proficiently than children of mothers who were not as engaged. This is because chatting with babies helps them understand and process the rules and cadence of spoken language.

Speak slowly and clearly to your little one so that how your lips move can be observed. Wait for your baby to respond, even if it’s through cute babbling or hand gestures. Remember to also name everything around so that baby learn to associate words and names with what they represent. For example, “Look at the red car!”


Repeat words

Research6 from the University of Maryland and Harvard University revealed that repeating words to your baby when he/she is around seven months old results in better language skills around a year and a half later.


Sing and play songs

What better way is there to expose your little one to repeated words and phrases in a fun and interactive way than through songs? You could sing to your little one or play their favourite song. Select songs that not only repeat words but also have corresponding actions such as “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” and “Twinkle, twinkle little star.”



Reading to your baby is a beautiful and effective way of encouraging him/her to say their first words. It also nurtures strong emotional bonding which is beneficial for speech since language skills are part of a little one’s socio-emotional development too. Choose books with bright colours, cute pictures and a simple storyline, making sure you point to colours and characters and name them as you read. You could also try asking your baby “questions” about the books, such as, “Where’s the bunny?”

Bilingualism and speech: Growing up in Singapore

Many babies in Singapore grow up in bilingual homes. If your little one is exposed to two languages, you may wonder if this will confuse your baby and hinder their learning of the languages. The good news is that it won’t and research7 shows that bilingual babies easily distinguish between the languages, showing no sign of confusion. The same research also indicates that bilingual children may have cognitive advantages over their monolingual peers, performing better on tasks that require switching between activities and showing better memory abilities in some instances.


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infants (0-1 year of age): Developmental milestones. Accessed on 24th March 2022 from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/infants.html
2 Borst, H. Piaget’s Stages Of Cognitive Development. Accessed on 24th march 2022 fromhttps://www.forbes.com/health/mind/piagets-stages-of-cognitive-development/
3 Webb, A. et al. Mother’s voice and heartbeat sounds elicit auditory plasticity in the human brain before full gestation. PNAS. Published on 15th February 2015. Accessed on 24th March 2022 fromhttps://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1414924112
4 The Mayo Clinic. Language development: Speech milestones for babies. Accessed on 24th March 2022 fromhttps://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/language-development/art-20045163
5 Carey, B. Stanford psychologist shows why talking to kids really matters. Stanford University News. Published on 13th February 2014. Accessed on 24th March 2022 from https://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/february/fernald-AAAS-children-021414.html
6 University of Maryland. Repeating Words to Infants Boosts Language Development. Accessed on 24th March 2022 from https://bsos.umd.edu/featured-content/repeating-words-infants-boosts
7 Byers-Heinlein K and Lew-Williams, C. Bilingualism in the Early Years: What the Science Says. Learning Landscapes. 2013. Accessed on 24th March 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6168212/

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