Baby Talk: How It Helps Your Baby Learn Language

mom and babyFrom a very young age babies are actually learning language. Before they learn to speak, they are already communicating in different non-verbal ways like smiling or cooing.

Over time, parents also tend to decode all the communication and understand their needs. New research states that baby talk, or high-pitched, extended vowels from parents, help babies learn language quicker and pick up words faster.

What is Baby Talk?

Baby talk or ‘parentese’ is not about using language or words to attempt to sound like a baby. Rather, the language used to communicate with babies is the same that is used when chatting with an adult. However, the way it is spoken is more simple, repetitive and exaggerated.

Research states that baby talk or cooing helps babies develop several capabilities, such as the ability to differentiate different speech sounds, notice the line between words and a flow of speech, and learn the skills of getting acquainted with discrete phrases.

How to Support your Baby’s Language Development?

Studies have found that kids whose parents talked in parentese, i.e. talked to them at a higher pitch and with elongated vowels had learned nearly three times more words by the age of two. (Source)

This comparison was made against kids whose parents used more adult-directed language. So using baby talk can actually help improve your child’s vocabulary, which is probably why parents do it instinctively.

Keep in mind these guidelines to help support your baby’s language development. Foremost, respond to all your baby’s cries. In the first couple of months and for some even a year, communication is mainly through crying. By responding to their cries, babies are assured that they would be listened to and that their needs would be met.

Secondly, try and initiate conversations with your little one. Emphasis on responding to their coo’s before you coo back. This conversation practice helps them understand that they would be responded to when they try to communicate.

Try to talk to your baby naturally and at all instances. It is a fact that babies understand many things before they actually speak. By regularly talking to your baby and listening to them, they will eventually comprehend and speak your language.

It may feel awkward the first few times you do this, however, it is sure to make an impact. Talk to your baby about daily happenings and about things that you are going to do with them. For example: “Mommy is going to feed you some stewed apple. Do you like it?”

Emphasize singing and storytelling as finger plays and movements and teach them words with physical prompts attached to them. For example the baby can ask to listen to the clapping song by clapping their hands, even before he or she actually learn how to say it.

Story books and other books with attractive pictures are a hit with most babies. Repetitive reading will encourage more steps for interacting with the little ones. To summarize, the most important thing to help babies learn language is to enjoy language and communicate with baby talk at all instances with them.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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