Why Talking to Your Baby Won't Make You Feel Like an Idiot Anymore

baby talkWhen my kids were babies, I had a habit of narrating our daily lives. Not in a Morgan Freeman/cinematic storyteller way, just a sort of running commentary on whatever it was we happened to be doing: "Okay, now we're going to pour the oatmeal in the bowl. It's a blue bowl, see? Isn't that a pretty blue bowl? Hmm, now we have to find a clean bib. This one is yucky. See, there's bananas on it."

Apparently when a woman with bedhead and dark circles under her eyes babbles incessantly to an infant, she appears somewhat unbalanced, because I distinctly remember various casual observers staring at me as if I'd gone mad: "You do know that baby can't understand a word you're saying, right?"

Oh, but that baby could (yours can too)! And now we have scientific proof: A recent study showed that babies as young as 6 months of age can understand words spoken to them.

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Ha! I knew I wasn't crazy!

Word recognition was previously believed to start later, somewhere between 9 and 14 months; younger infants were thought to recognize only sounds. But now that we know how early those cognitive abilities kick in, there's no reason not to talk to our babies about anything and everything.

Sure, some stuff is bound to go over their heads (hopefully that includes the stuff you yell at other drivers on the road and the stuff you say when you drop something heavy on your foot or spill a container of baby powder all over the floor).

But they're still picking up on plenty of useful information. And as one of the researchers put it, "The more they know, the more they can build on what they know."

So go ahead, talk to your baby about loading the dishwasher and paying bills and sorting out the recycling. It doesn't mean you're losing your mind.

(I mean, you might be losing your mind. But if you are it doesn't have anything to do with this.)

Do you talk to your baby? Does it seem like she can understand what you're saying?


Image via kathryn/Flickr

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