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

Let Your Baby Learn By Labeling

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — At 12 months, most babies know and understand about 50 words. Parents are always looking for ways to help their little ones absorb more. Now a new study from Northwestern University offers some insight into how babies use the words they hear to learn more about the world.

Babies learn new things every day, and scientists are trying to figure out how their brains categorize the information they see and hear. In a new study, researchers showed babies a category of invented creatures. All the babies saw six creatures, but the researchers tested different ways of telling the infants what the creature was called. Results showed that labeling a creature only the first two times helped the babies successfully learn about the creatures’ category.

Scientists say this study could offer parents insight into how to help their baby categorize and label things. For instance, you can say, “Look, it’s a cat” the first few times the baby sees it. Another time you can say, “Look, it’s furry” to help baby learn textures. Another time you can say, “Look, it’s meowing” to help baby learn animal sounds.

In this study, researchers measured whether the babies learned the creatures’ category by showing them a new creature to see how long they stared at each. Previous research has shown babies will stare longer at a new object. So babies take all this information and learn as they encounter more things in their world.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Julie Marks, Field 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. 

Original research: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/desc.12736

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