"Baby talk, baby talk, it's a wonder you can walk." That was the taunt made to little Cindy Brady in an episode of the iconic program "The Brady Bunch" called "A Fistful of Reasons" back in November 1970. However, there may just be something to baby talk after all according to research by the University of Wisconsin's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.
According to their findings, speaking to infants using elongated vowels and higher pitched voices leads them to develop higher vocabularies than their peers by age two. How much higher? The study suggests that on average the child's vocabulary is 300% higher which is statistically significant to say the least.
"What our analysis shows is that the prevalence of baby talk in one-on-one conversations with children is linked to better language development." said Patricia Kuhl, co-author and co-director of UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.
Parents who would speak to their children in pleasant tones and emphasize key words promoted their children mimicking of those words using babbling, a known precursor to speaking. The study also found that parentese AKA baby talk is most effective in a one-on-one setting away from other children and adults.
The study was conducted on 26 one-year-old toddlers who wore recording vests to detect the use of parentese or regular speech. After one year, parents responded to questionnaires regarding words recognized by their children. It was then that the researchers noted the advantages that parentese played in vocabulary development.
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Baby talk helps infants learn language faster