Recent research now shows that speaking to babies in a fun way with varied speeds and pitches as well as an emphasis on sound effects actually produces toddlers with better vocabularies.
Even though baby talk or “motherese” is used instinctually by caregivers worldwide, conventional wisdom and prior studies have indicated we should talk to babies as adults. Recent research now shows that speaking to babies in a fun way with varied speeds and pitches as well as an emphasis on sound effects actually produces toddlers with better vocabularies.
Previous research indicated that saying “look at the moo” in place of the more proper “look at the cow” may help develop language in the following months, but actually slowed development in the long term.
Those conclusions didn’t seem correct to Christina Royster who was a University of Maryland graduate student at the time and now works as a school’s speech pathologist. So she created a study evaluating parental interactions with 30 infants at ages 7 months, 10 months, and 11 months as well as later testing the children’s vocabulary at 2 years.
Researchers were surprised to learn that parents who used attention-getting words and sound effects in happy tones encouraged babies to focus on the parent and resulted in 2-year-olds who knew more words as well as their meanings and proper usage.
According to Royster, “Motherese strikes that perfect balance between making it simple and giving a lot of input.”