Before your baby utters their much awaited first words, they delight you with a series of cooing and babbling. As a parent, you just live for those moments when your baby is becoming more and more responsive to your cues and questions. But how do babies communicate?
How do babies communicate? Study finds they prefer talking to other babies!
As your baby grows, they will pick up different sounds and words. It’s no secret that babies respond more to high-pitched sounds. While some encourage babbling to your baby, others emphasise the importance of not resorting to just “baby talk.” However, there are some experts who believe “baby talk” can help improve pronunciation and vocabulary.
But a new study is shedding light on another type of baby conversation. According to new research, babies perceive vowel sounds better when it comes from their fellow babies!
This study offers a new way of viewing baby language development.
How do babies communicate? A new study finds they respond more to voices that sound like other babies | image source: shutterstock
Researchers observed five-month-old babies and found that 40 percent of them tended to listen more intently when hearing other baby’s voices.
Linda Polka, a McGill University professor, said in a statement that their findings provide a better picture of “how infants develop their understanding of spoken language — what they bring innately and what is shaped by their experience as listeners and as ‘talkers-in-training.'”
Here are more interesting aspects of the study:
- Researchers used a synthesizer to create human-like sounds at any age.
- They made babies sit in front of a checkerboard screen that they can turn off by simply looking away.
- They found that babies were more attentive to the screen when they hear vowel sound coming from baby-like voices.
- Even the most high-pitched adult voice can mimic the acoustic vocal properties of babies.
- When babies hear their peers speak, it helps develop their receptive, expressive, and motivational aspects of their language development.
- What’s more, they did similar tests to 7-month-old babies and found that this remains true. Babies seemed more attuned to sounds coming from babies, too.
How do babies communicate? Language development tips for parents
How do babies communicate? They do so in both expressive and receptive ways, just like adults! | image source: shutterstock
Though babies linger on sounds from other babies, moms and dads still play a crucial role in their baby’s language development during the first year of life.
“Infants’ own vocalizations are quite potent; infant speech seems to capture and hold infant attention, sometimes prompting positive emotions,” explains Polka in a statement. “This may motivate infants to be vocally active and make it easier to evaluate their own vocalizations, perhaps energizing and supporting spoken language development.”
Babies usually utter their first few words at 11 to 14 months old. But their language development continues to flourish through their toddler years and beyond.
0 to 6 months
- Maintain eye contact. Hold your baby close as you speak to them; they love looking at your face!
- Speak in sing-song. As stated, baby’s are more attentive to high-pitched, musical voices.
- Be their echo. Repeating the sounds they make can improve their receptive language development.
- Chat constantly. Even if you’re just feeding or changing them, make it a time to converse and improve their communication skills.
- Sing to them. Even repetitive nursery rhymes can do wonders in helping kids develop rhythm, cadence, and memorization of language.
6 to 12 months
- Read to them. Sure you don’t have to teach them to read this young, but reading words alongside stimulating pictures can make them more eager to listen to your voice.
- Play games with them. Not only does this encourage them to communicate, it can also teach them to wait their turn and pay attention.
- Point out objects in your surroundings using their right name and description. Point at a tree and say “Look at the green leaves!” Sure, they might not grasp it fully just yet, but you’re setting a good language foundation as early as infancy.
- Chuck the pacifier until bed time. Some claim giving your baby a dummy or pacifier throughout the day can affect their language and speech development.
source: EurekAlert.org, Smithsonian Magazine, The Conversation, American Speech Language Hearing Association, NHS UK
Also READ: Baby talk: The importance of babbling for baby’s language development
Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore