Say it, don't spray it! Most everyone I know has the habit of talking to their babies. I don’t just mean saying, “Oo-chie woo-chie you’re too gorgeous.” Every time I mention that I talk to my baby, I get a flurry of responses from women confessing they pretty much narrate their entire days, babbling at the baby out of sheer boredom sometimes -- just to have someone to talk to!
The baby-advice-givers all say it’s great to talk to your baby. But a study 30 years in the making says that parents who talk to babies, at babies, around babies -- are setting their kids up for much more successful lives than parents who don’t.
Which means we chatterbox moms aren’t just having fun -- we’re ensuring our babies' future success!
The researchers who did this study had been part of a program in the ‘60s to encourage poor kids to improve their vocabularies. They worked with kids as young as 4 years old and found they just couldn’t budge the kids’ fluency.
It seemed clear that they needed to get to these kids earlier. They followed 40 families of different economic levels for three years, recording their conversations on a monthly basis and studied the effects of speech.
The result that struck them the most was that it almost didn’t matter what was being said -- as long as it was being said. In very poor homes, children heard about 600 words per hour. In the home of a more well-to-do professional, they would hear an average of 2,100 words every hour.
In response to this study, many programs have popped up that “coach” low-income parents to talk and interact with their kids more. Of course, this isn’t the only solution. But it’s an easy change to make.
And speaking as a mom who’s been a little stressed, hopeless, and depressed about our economic sitch -- I can say that there’s a definite self-perpetuating loop of happy that happens when a mom and baby start chattering back and forth.
At the very least, if someone complains that you’re chattering at the baby too much, you can tell them you’re doing your part to get her to Harvard!
Do you talk to your baby? Like, a lot?
Photo Via LindsayShaver/Flickr