Speaking to Babies in ‘Parentese’ Yields Surprising Results

A recent study which examined twenty-six babies has found surprising results regarding the way babies learn and use new vocabulary when spoken to in ‘parentese.’ Scientists outfitted 1-year-olds with clothes containing audio recorders. They recorded every bit of sound happening around the children for eight hours a day and four days straight. This came to 4,075 30-second intervals of recorded speech for each child.

After examining each and every 30-second clip of sound with a nifty piece of software called LENA (“language environment analysis”), and waiting a whole year the scientists were ready to share the shocking news. Speaking to a baby in baby talk, or more specifically, ‘parentese,’ is more important than just saying as many words as possible when it comes to language development.

Related Article: Read for Pleasure to Significantly Boost Intelligence

Although new parents commonly receive the advice to say as many words to a baby as possible in order to encourage its language growth, this isn’t the most ideal advice. When the babies were two years old the scientists asked the parents of the 26 children to fill out a questionnaire asking how many words their children knew. The evidence is quite clear:

2-year olds in families who spoke the most baby talk [parentese] in a one-on-one social context knew 433 words, on average, compared with the 169 words recognized by 2-year olds in families who used the least babytalk in one-on-one situations. The relationship between baby talk [parentese] and language development persisted across socioeconomic status and despite there only being 26 families in the study.

parentese man

Parentese is so easy anyone can do it! vimeo.com

While baby talk is nonsensical noise, parentese is like a dialect of normal speech. While speaking in parentese you still use normal words, the difference is that you use a high pitch voice and stretch out the vowels. An example of parentese picking up a baby and saying, “who’s my li-i-ttle baybee? Are you my littlee baybee? Yes, yoooou are!” You’re not saying “ooga booga,” you’re just being animated.

Related Article: Why Humans Have the Unique Ability to Learn New Words

The research also revealed that one-on-one conversations, especially in parentese, are extremely important.  Patricia Kuhl, co-author of the study and co-director of UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences confirms this point by explaining that,

what our analysis shows is that the prevalence of baby talk in one-on-one conversations with children is linked to better language development, both concurrent and future.

The reason parentese works so well is because of how well it engages babies.  Parentese allows a parent to keep their child’s attention by speaking in a slow happy voice, while still using actual words. Most importantly, especially in the case of a one-on-one conversation, parentese encourages a response and the consequent attempt at language formation. It is this constant attempt at verbal speech in the form of babbling that leads to the most rapid language learning in infants. As Kuhl concludes,

It’s not just talk, talk, talk at the child. It’s more important to work toward interaction and engagement around language. You want to engage the infant and get the baby to babble back. The more you get that serve and volley going, the more language advances.

Additional recent studies in the same vein as the one above have found that engaging in non-verbal language and learning multiple languages at the same time are also solid methods for improving vocabulary and language development in infants.

Related Article: Epigenetics and Altering Your DNA

If you are planning on taking parentese classes and implementing some of these techniques in an attempt to boost your child’s vocabulary, remember to read to them. Reading to and with children is possibly the single biggest factor in language development. Not to mention, it teaches them to love and enjoy literature.









Babies and the ‘Cost of Inaction’

I, Healthyheartbeatz, a grown man of 25, have a soft spot for children in need. Me, with all of my bravado and manliness, me with all of my outspokenness and inclination to argue, YES I still cringe every time I see a helpless child in need on TV or displayed in an advertisement. That may have to do with my ridiculous sensitivity and sympathy, not to mention I am also very much so captivated by puppies, but that is besides the point of course! Children are our future and taking care of them is priority! We can’t let them turn into mindless zombies, something must be done!

Why must you bother me with all of this? Well, I stumbled upon a series of recent studies put together by (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights that of course made me cringe and fired up my synapses in order to reach out to you, our Wondergressivers (ererers). But let’s take it easy, I am not in any way trying to make you, our loving reader, pay anything or donate anything. This is a news group dedicated to researching and informing others! Naturally that is exactly how this will all play out, and without any final request other than for the lot of you to be “in the know”-

Onwards! The studies discussed were particularly interesting because they emphasize that poor kids that are suffering around the world are specifically suffering from inaction even when we are wasting 40% of our food as well as 25% of our freshwater daily. Sudhir Anand, speaking on a panel at The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health

Failing to intervene nutritionally to aid malnourished children can stunt them for life and failing to provide antiretroviral drugs to parents can turn their children into orphans, putting them at increased risk of falling into crime, drug abuse, prostitution, and other societal ills.

Just think, all of our non-action towards the kids of tomorrow acts as a catalyst for failure in the future. Who knows when the next Einstein will be neglected or the next Copernicus will starve to death or the next Socrates will be condemned by society… wait, just a second. Countess Albina du Boisrouvray, a passionate supporter of helping the children of the world and founder of (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights, said in an interview:

There are more than a billion of these children around the world, they are living in extreme poverty. They live by codes of conduct completely divorced from ours, and the older they get, the harder it will be to reintegrate them, even at great cost. Each day, they drift further and further.  A huge percentage of the world’s adults are going to be almost a different species. This is terrible for society and for the economy — for everything officials are supposed to be worried about — as well as terrible for the kids.

But of course it’s not only the poor who are suffering, we have kids suffering daily from our public school failures as well as neglected children of our country.

There is no link to donate, there is no outcry to change your ways, its a simple message, a pass off of knowledge. So don’t forget our youngins. Babies are our future, past, present, and just about everything else. Without babies we wouldn’t exist. Some babies are super lucky being thrown into traffic and surviving unscathed. Other babies are watched over by angels as they simply survive unforeseen complications at their birth. Just a little baby power to end on a high note. Preacher OUT!



(FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights

The Cost of Inaction

Cost of Doing Nothing

Wasted Resources

Forum at Harvard School of Public Health

Neglect – American Humane Association

Wondergressive: Public School Failure in America

Wondergressive: TV and the Brain

Wondergressive: Fat Poor Kids

Babies (film)

Baby Survives Car Crash in Russia

Baby Born With Heart Out of Body

Laughing Baby – Caution You Will Laugh/Giggle/Tehehehe