Baby Babble: Style of Speech, Social Context Spurs Faster Language Development

First Posted: Jan 07, 2014 01:20 PM EST

Regular communication with your baby can become an important part of his or her language development.

Though previous studies have suggested that children may benefit from the quantity of new words, recent research suggests that it's more about the style of speech and social context in which language occurs that will help youngsters develop these skills.

According to researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Connecticut, they examined thousands of 30-second snippets via verbal exchanges between parents and babies. Parents' use of their regular speaking voice versus their exaggerated and animated styles were also examined in order to determine whether speech patterns occurred one on one between parent and child or in group settings.

Twenty-six babies around the age of 1 wore vests containing audio recorders to collect sounds from the children's auditory environment over a period of eight hours for four days. Researchers used LENA ("language environment analysis") software in order to examine speech intervals. When the babies turned 2, parents were asked to fill out questionnaires measuring how many words their child knew.

The study showed that the more parents exaggerated vowels and raised the pitch of their voices, the more their children were able to try and compose words.

"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," said Patricia Kuhl, co-author and co-director of UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, via a press release"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."

Study findings showed that the relationship between language development and baby-talk persisted despite the small sample size of families involved in the study (26) and socioeconomic status.

Though previous studies have looked at how parents engage language with their babies, this study presses on the importance of the speech that's exchanged.

"It's not just talk, talk, talk at the child," said Kuhl, via the release. "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."

More information regarding the study can be found via here

See Now: NASA's Juno Spacecraft's Rendezvous With Jupiter's Mammoth Cyclone

©2017 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission. The window to the world of science news.

Join the Conversation

Real Time Analytics