Baby talk – the soft gurgles, squeals and sounds that babies make before they utter their first words – plays an important role in babies’ language development. Scientists say that parents can help their babies to develop language skills by talking to them.
In a recent study conducted at the University of Washington, scientists played a recorded series of syllables, similar to that of “baby talk” for babies between 7 and 11 months old, and found that the babies’ brain activity surged as a result.
Patricia Kuhl, who authored the study, notes that reading to babies from birth is beneficial for language development, as is the kind of exaggerated speech widely known as “baby talk.” This includes exaggerated facial expressions and soft, friendly voices that scientists refer to as “motherese.”
Reading is only the start. Kuhl, quoted in The Washington Post, explained that when babies talk, they want you to talk back. This can be a kind of baby talk call-and-response, a volleying back and forth of soft, sweet sounds.
When it comes to reading, all language in a baby’s “mother’s tongue” is the same to the baby at this point, as long as the tone is soft and soothing. So feel free to read your newborn the newspaper or a favorite novel, not only children’s books. They’ll be all ears.