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Baby Talk Helps Children Learn Words Faster

Happy mother and baby
Photograph by Getty Images

A bit ago we wrote about a new parenting fad that discouraged baby talk because it meant parents weren't treating their children with the respect they deserved. But parents who are using the RIE method might want to rethink their choices after reading about this new study that says baby talk can actually help kids pick up words faster.

Researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Connecticut listened to 30-second recordings of verbal interactions between parents and their children. The children whose parents used more baby talk (animated, exaggerated speech) ultimately learned almost three times more words by the time they turned 2 years old.

The kids whose parents spoke to them in a more normal voice and tone didn't see the same results. On average, 2-year-olds in families with limited baby talk only learned 169 words, while the children with more baby talk learned 433 words.

But what's the cause for the drastic difference? Patricia Kuhl, a co-author on the study, said, "It's more important to work toward interaction and engagement around language. You want to engage the infant and get the baby to babble back." Babbling is a sign of language development. Bottom line? It seems like the more fun you make it sound to talk, the more it encourages your little ones to get involved and make noise, too!

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