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Study Reveals the Key to Teaching Toddlers to Talk

Cute baby girl with big eyes looking up
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

Say "so long" to baby talk.

The secret to teaching babies and toddlers language skills is pretty simple when you think about it: Just talk (normally). And while that's the easy part, a new study says that it's also what you say to your children, how you say it and when you say it that are also important.

Research on early language skills was recently presented at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The findings showed that parents should first and foremost speak to their children, starting at a very early age. Shockingly, by the age of 18 months, researchers found there was already a "word gap between the children who hear[d] a lot of words and those who [didn't]."

To set your children up for success, researchers say you should talk in complete, grammatically correct sentences. Talk about a range of things, like the weather, what you're feeding them for lunch, how you're feeling, etc. By providing context to your actions and different situations, children learn how things are connected while also learning new and different words.

While it may seem too easy (and good) to be true, it isn't: Brain scans back up the research, showing that "kids who hear more words end up devoting more of their brain to learning language," according to the study.

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