More than Baby Talk: Talking to Baby Helps with Brain Development

More than Baby Talk: Talking to Baby Helps with Brain Development

According to a recent study by the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) in Seattle, babies as young as seven months old are mentally working out the mechanics of how to form words with their mouths — well before they’re able to utter their first recognizable syllable. And, as ABC News reports, that means speaking “parentese” to your baby can help with brain development.

Patricia Kuhl, co-director of I-LABS described the findings of the study as “a new way of looking at a variety of things we know about babies: They love listening to us talk, they love listening to exaggerated talk and they love social games.”

“Speaking to baby increases child’s vocabulary and comprehension of language,” said Jody B Miller, a Speech-Language Pathologist at JCFS Chicago's Integrated Pediatric Therapies (IPT). “When you respond to baby’s sounds with speech, they begin to understand turn-taking and social interactions. Games like peek-a-boo as well as imitating baby’s sound productions, for example saying ‘aahh’ when the baby says ‘aahh’, are good ways to develop language during regular routines, such as bath time and mealtime.”

Jennie Marble M.A. CCC-SLP, Director of JCFS Chicago's Integrated Pediatric Therapies, suggests using slow, methodical speech to help the baby understand and process what you’re saying.

The Seattle Times reported that the I-LABS researchers have also found that babies whose parents talked to them using “parentese,” the singsong, exaggerated way of speaking to a young child, knew more than double the number of words by their second birthdays than babies whose parents did not use parentese as often.

The bottom line? “Explain to the baby what you’re doing as you go through your daily routines, like washing the dishes,” says Marble.  "Take time away from your electronics to make eye contact and conversation with your baby."

For information on child development or groups for language development, school preparedness and more, contact Integrated Pediatric Therapies at 847.412.4379 or