Here comes the choo-choo train! Baby talk speeds up an infant’s learning by expanding their vocabulary and boosting their memory, study finds
- Baby talk, such as doggy, helps youngsters pick up language quicker
- Words ending in ‘y’, such as ‘mummy’ and ‘tummy’, are particularly beneficial
- Repeated words, like ‘night-night’ also boost children’s learning skills
- Onomatopoeias, such as ‘splash’ and ‘woof’, do not have the same effect
- Baby talk makes them remember words for the same thing, like ‘dog’ and ‘woof’
Baby talk speeds up an infant’s learning, new research suggests.
Babbling terms of endearment such as ‘coochie coo’ helps youngsters pick up language more quickly and could give them a head start at school, a Scottish study found.
In particular, words that end in ‘y’, such as tummy, mummy and doggy, or those that repeat sounds like ‘night-night’, help children aged between nine and 21 months pick up new phrases, the research adds.
This is thought to be due to baby talk stimulating the development of memories. For instance, an infant’s memory of hearing words such as ‘woof-woof’ is stored differently to ‘dog’.
Baby talk may also expand a youngster’s vocabulary due to them having to remember different sounds for the same object, such as ‘choo choo’ and ‘train’.
Baby talk speeds up an infant’s learning, new research from Edinburgh University suggests (stock image)
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SHOULD BABIES EAT EGGS?
Feeding babies eggs boosts their brain development and function, research suggested in December 2017.
Just one egg a day for six months significantly increases youngsters’ levels of the nutrients choline and DHA, both of which are involved in brain health, a study found.
Previous research implies feeding babies eggs improves their growth and prevents stunting.
Lead author Lora Iannotti from the Brown School at Washington University, said: ‘Like milk or seeds, eggs are designed to support the early growth and development of an organism and are, therefore, dense in nutrient content.
‘Eggs provide essential fatty acids, proteins, choline, vitamins A and B12, selenium, and other critical nutrients at levels above or comparable to those found in other animal food products, but they are relatively more affordable.’
The researchers analyzed 163 babies aged between six and nine months from Ecuador in 2015.
Of the infants, 80 were fed one egg a day for six months, while the remainder were given none.
How the research was carried out
The researchers, from Edinburgh University, recorded a sample of words said to 24 baby boys and 23 female infants, all aged nine months, who were learning English.
The recorded speech was each at least 15 minutes long, with a total of 90 minutes per family.
As well as analysing words ending in ‘y’ and those with repeated syllables, the researchers also checked for onomatopoeic words that sound like their meaning, such as ‘woof’ and ‘splash.’
The babies’ language development was determined by analysing the extent of their vocabularies at nine, 15 and 21 months.
Results further suggest words ending in ‘y’ or those that are repeated boost children’s vocabularies, however, onomatopoeias do not.
‘There are developmental advantages associated with baby talk’
The issue of whether baby talk plays a role in language development has been debated for years.
The more recent study contradicts one released three years ago by Japanese scientists that suggested baby talk hinders an infant’s development.
These researchers encouraged parents to address their children normally rather than speaking slowly in a sing-song voice.
Yet, Dr Mitsuhiko Ota, from Edinburgh University, argued any harm is likely only short term and is outweighed in the long run.
He said: ‘Taken together, these findings lend further support to the general idea that there are developmental advantages associated with the characteristics frequently found in the unique vocabulary of baby talk.
‘The current study suggests language further accommodates the infant learner by introducing items that are not part and parcel of the adult system.
‘Even though words such as “choo-choo” and “bunny” appear superfluous, they may play an important role in bootstrapping the development of the vocabulary as a whole.’
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