A project of the Child Trends News Service supported by the National Science Foundation

Baby Babble Turns to Talk

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Wondering when your baby will say her first word? Researchers say there is one, small thing parents can do to speed up the process.

Listening to your baby babble may be the quickest way to turn that babbling into real words. Researchers studied the interactions between 12 eight-month-old babies and their moms during 30 minute free play sessions twice a month. They found the more moms acknowledged and responded to vocalization while their babies were looking at them, the more advanced their babies’ talk became in the following months and the quicker that babbling started to sound like words. The mothers were surveyed a month after the studies and those who were more attentive to their babies’ babble reported their baby made more gestures and said more words at age 15 months.

So what can parents do? Engage with your baby when she is babbling. Even if you can’t understand the babble, try to respond to the babbling with words you think your baby is saying or that your baby is looking at. For example, if she says da-da, respond with dad. If baby is looking at a toy, label the toy. Just the acknowledgement grows your baby’s language skills one word at a time.

The researchers also conducted similar experiments with fathers regarding attentiveness and suggest the findings in this study could be applied to fathers as well.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Milvionne Chery, News Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

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