Culture

‘Baby talk’ could be vital to child development

Research has revealed that parents can improve their children’s development by speaking in a baby voice. Lauren Anthony reports.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN / GREECE / UK (UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON’S INSTITUTE FOR LEARNING & BRAIN SCIENCES / REUTERS) –

It might sound silly — but baby talk could actually be one of the most important ways that your little one learns.

Scientists say parents can improve their children’s cognitive leaning by adopting an unusual style of baby talk called ‘Parentese’.

But Parentese isn’t your average baby talk – made of silly sounds and nonsense words – says Dr Naja Ferjan Ramirez, a research scientist at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, or I-LABS.

DR NAJA FERJAN RAMIREZ, LINGUISTICS RESEARCHER,

“Studies have shown that compared to standard speech parentese uses a higher pitch, a slower tempo, exaggerated intonation and acoustically exaggerated sounds. We have also shown that when given a choice infants prefer to listen to parentese over standard speech and that infants who hear more parentese at 11 months have larger vocabularies at 24 months.”

The team at I-LABS coached some parents to use more language when interacting with kids, and the results showed those children had better language skills at 14 months – from babbling, to properly formed words.

But apparently, mums are better at parentese than dads.

Research suggests that fathers are not communicating with their babies as much as they should be.

So some dads have signed up to a course to learn how to interact with their little ones – like Ludvig Flyckt.

LUDVIG FLYCKT,

“I want to learn the baby language to interact more with my daughter and see her view of the world.”

A global collaboration between UNICEF and non-profit H&M Foundation hopes to get dads more involved — and get the whole family talking.

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