You Could Be Talking to Your Baby All Wrong

mom talking to babyParents have long known that talking to their babies is beneficial. When a little one hears their parent's voice, it does a number of things: Makes them feel safe; gets them used to noise; and, perhaps most often studied, helps boost their language development. But this just in! You might be doing it wrong!

Okay, so there's no wrong way to talk to an infant, but according a new study, there's a specific setting and way in which moms and dads should communicate with their babies if they want them to master more words.

Like most things in life, it isn't about quantity, it's about quality.


Researchers at the University of Washington and University of Connecticut found that one-on-one talk with babies as well as baby-style talking is what spurs small children to babble more, which is a "forerunner of word production." While talking around babies in group settings certainly can't hurt, according to these findings, it's not the thing that's going to help baby learn language quickly. The study also found that speaking in a high-pitched voice with exaggerated vowels ("Hiiiiiii! How are youuuuuu?") helps infants with language development, as opposed to talking in your regular voice.

Similar studies in the past have typically focused on the amount of words babies hear without taking the social context into account. This study shows that word mastering goes beyond that. According to one of the authors, "What this study is adding is that how you talk to children matters. Parentese is much better at developing language than regular speech, and even better if it occurs in a one-on-one interaction."

So, you hear that, parents? Just because you and your partner are discussing what to have for dinner in front of your newborn doesn't mean he's going to be a wordsmith. You need to carve out time in your hectic day to sit down with him and have a heart-to-heart (in a high-pitched tone and drawn-out cadence!).

Or, you know, just do what you've already been doing all along :)

How do you talk to your baby?


Image via PBNJ Productions/Blend Images/Corbis

Read More >