One-on-One Baby Talks Develop their Language Skills

By Vishakha Sonawane, Parent Herald January 08, 08:43 am

One-on-one conversations with babies improve their language skills, a latest study states.

Researchers at the University of Washington and University of Connecticut analyzed thousands of 30-second snippets of parent-baby conversations. They studied the regular voice that parents use with their exaggerated, baby type speaking style.

 "What our analysis shows is that the prevalence of baby talk in one-on-one conversations with children is linked to better language development, both concurrent and future," Patricia Kuhl, co-author and co-director of University of Washington's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, said in a press release.

The researchers found that the more parents stressed on the vowels, such as "How are youuuuu?" - and raised their voice pitch, the more the babies babbled. "The fact that the infant's babbling itself plays a role in future language development shows how important the interchange between parent and child is," Kuhl said.

The authors stated that the baby talk was mostly useful when a parent spoke with their babies personally.

"Some parents produce baby talk naturally and they don't realise that they are actually benefiting their toddlers," said first author Nairán Ramírez-Esparza, an assistant psychology professor at University of Connecticut.

According to the researchers, the study findings are important as it shows that quality, not quantity, is what matters. "What this study is adding is that how you talk to children matters. Parentese is much better at developing language than regular speech, and even better if it occurs in a one-on-one interaction," Ramirez-Esparza said.

Parents can use baby talk when going about everyday activities, saying things like, "Where are your shoooes?," "Let's change your diiiiaper," and "Oh, this tastes goooood!," emphasizing important words and speaking slowly using a happy tone of voice.

"It's not just talk, talk, talk at the child," said Kuhl. "It's more important to work toward interaction and engagement around language. You want to engage the infant and get the baby to babble back. The more you get that serve and volley going, the more language advances."

The study is published in the journal Developmental Science.

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