I remember I once read somewhere that baby talk might not be good for babies — that the high-pitched gibberish (a.k.a. motherese) prevents children from getting a good basis for language. I’m so glad to find out that this – like I always felt it to be – is incorrect.
The Donders Institute, known for its neurocognitive research, explains more on its Donders Wonders Blog: Oopie Whoopsie! Baby Talk is Actually Good For Babies.
One study based on home audio recordings found that the more IDS [Infant-Directed Speech] parents used with their 11 to 14 month-old babies, the more the babies babbled back and, in turn, the more words they knew by the age of two.
It comes down to this: talking to babies is not just natural, it is essential for their ‘linguistic nutrition’. Of course, baby talk is for babies, and the older they become, the more important the actual meaning of words become.
See this TED Talk by Anne Fernald to discover just how important the number of words that a baby or young child hears affects the linguistic ability.
What surprised me the most is how developmental gaps in language can occur at a young age and then level off and remain constant, but they don’t go away.
I think I’ll be talking my children’s ear off a lot more than I have already been doing. And of course, continue our night time reading (which is my absolute favourite part of the day).