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July 18, 2024

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Chatty Homes Make Smarter Tots

Talk to Baby to help his speech development, but don't always use "baby talk." Research shows the more complex conversations you have around him the better!

Baby’s first roll, crawl or even his first steps is what most new parents keep track of more often. However, worrying about these milestones may also lead to you not pay attention to his speech development.

“If parents spend the first year of their child’s life worrying mostly about motor development, we devote the second to language,” Lise Eliot, Ph.D., author of What’s Going on in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life. “And if a child’s speech isn’t all that forthcoming, we begin nervously reading up on language delays and disorders.”

The vast majority of babies learn to talk without you directly teaching them. Human language is an instinct and that’s why babies create their own language, adds Eliot.

Babies mimick what they hear. So, the more you talk to him, the more he wants to repeat what you say. A new study reveals why it’s important to be chatty around your baby from the beginning: Large amounts of adult speech lead to better cognitive skills in kids.

Chatty Parents = Smarter Tots

Baby talk is widely used by parents. You know you’ve caught yourself doing it, too. And that’s OK. However, don’t make it the only form of speech your Baby hears.

“We found that the quantity of adult spoken words that children hear is positively associated with their cognitive ability,” says lead author of the study, Katrina d’Apice, a Ph.D. student from the University of York’s Department of Education. According to ScienceDaily, “The major new study identified a link between kids who heard high quantities of adult speech and their nonverbal abilities such as reasoning, numeracy and shape awareness. The researchers also found that high quality adult speech may have benefits for children’s linguistic development, as children in the study who interacted with adults who used a diverse vocabulary knew a greater variety of words themselves.”

So, while it’s good to say things like “It’s time to take a bath” or “Let’s take these dirty clothes off,” which explain what’s going on in the moment, you should also have long, normal conversations using a variety of complex words. Even conversations with other adults in the room are good. You don’t always have to speak directly to Baby for him to learn and benefit from hearing you talk.

Read, Read, Read to Baby

Of course, a good way to boost Baby’s language development is to read to him. Grab a board book, plop down on a comfy pillow and read on.

Researchers from the University of Florida conducted baby studies to learn just how much babies retain from books read to them. The results of the studies showed that books with clearly labeled faces or objects provided higher quality interactions with the babies. Babies also responded to characters with names. So, choose your books wisely.

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