When it comes to babbling, babies are second only to brooks. But when mothers act like they understand what their infant is saying, and respond conversationally, it can actually help that child’s cognitive development, a new study in the scientific journal Infancy says.
The study, performed by professors at The University of Iowa and Indiana University, was conducted using 12 pairs of mothers and babies, according to its introduction. There were seven mother-daughter pairs and five mother-son pairs. They were studied in 30 minute play sessions, with particular attention paid to infant vocalization towards their mothers and towards random objects.
According to the study, babies whose mothers responded to their babbling in a conversational way showed advanced vocal usage and development at the end of a six month period.
“As infants receive feedback about the effectiveness of their vocalizations, they may increase vocalizations in combination with visual gaze,” says one portion of the study. “This results in more advanced communication.”
It all comes down to how mothers speak with their infants. In essence, it is the difference between talking at them and talking with them, according to the study.
When moms in the study were more sensitive to what their infants were focusing on when vocalizing, and gave more sensitive responses, those babies used more words by the age of 15 months, according to the study.
So, the next time your baby is babbling, strike up a conversation with them. It can only help.