Speaking ‘Parentese’ Boosts a Baby’s Language Development

According to a new study from the University of Washington, using ‘parentese’, a speaking style drawing baby’s attention, helps babies talk and enhances the children’s language development months later.

For the study, all families participating in the study received a lightweight recorder, which was attached to a specially designed vest worn by a child during four separate weekends at ages 6, 10, 14 and 18 months.

The device recorded both parent and infant speech over the period of two consecutive days so that researchers could measure parents' use of ‘parentese’, parent-child conversational turns, and infant language production which included both babbling and actual words.

Patricia Kuhl, I-LABS co-director and professor of speech and hearing sciences at the UW says: “We now think parentese works because it's a social hook for the baby brain -- its high pitch and slower tempo are socially engaging and invite the baby to respond.”


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