Have you heard of a communication tip called “serve and return”?

Even if you haven’t, serve and return is a simple technique you may already be doing!

Serve and return is an important exercise that impacts brain development. Here’s how it works:

  1. Baby does something (this is the “serve”)
  2. You respond (This is the “return”)
  3. Wait for baby to respond, then respond back to them. Keep the serve and return going for as long as you can!

An example of serve and return is talking. If baby makes a sound, say something back to them. Then, wait for them to return with a response. Back-and-forth communication is important for baby to learn.

Serve and return doesn’t only include talking. What are other serve and return interactions?

Here some examples of serve and return:

  • If baby is crying, try giving them a hug
  • If baby is looking scared or happy, try helping them
  • If baby is making a sound, try playing with them
  • If baby is pointing at something, try imitating them
  • If baby is asking a question, try responding to coos/words

Returns help baby feel acknowledged and understood. So when baby serves, make sure you return!

Watch this serve and return video to see this communication tip in action! To learn more about baby’s communication development, visit our communication page.