Join the next Smart Parenting Giveaway and get a chance to win exciting prizes!

Join Now
  • Your Baby's Babbling Noises May Be His Way of Controlling How You Talk to Him

    Those noises may sound incomprehensible, but they mean a lot more than you might think!
    by Kate Borbon .
Your Baby's Babbling Noises May Be His Way of Controlling How You Talk to Him
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Talking to your baby helps facilitate his learning of speech sounds and patterns already. Even those babbling noises he makes are said to be their first steps toward developing language skills. In fact, all his babbling might be his way of influencing you how to talk and even shape his learning environment, at least according a recent study from Cornell University, 

    The study, which was published online on July 16, 2019, in the Journal of Child Language, was led by senior author Michael Goldstein, an associate professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences and co-director of Cornell’s Behavioral Analysis of Beginning Years (B.A.B.Y.) Laboratory, and lead author Steven Elmlinger, a doctoral candidate in the field of psychology.

    The researchers observed 30 mother-infant pairs while they spent time in a playroom equipped with toys, a toy box, and some animal posters. Romper reported that each pair was brought into the playroom for two 30-minute sessions spaced around 24 hours apart. The babies were between 9 and 10 months old and allowed to explore and play in the room freely.

    ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

    Both the infants and their mothers were dressed in overalls fitted with wireless microphones that would record their vocalizations. They were also videotaped throughout the sessions. The mothers’ syntax and vocabulary were measured as well as the changes of how the babies babbled from the first to the second day of the experiment.

    More from Smart Parenting

    The researchers discovered that when the babies babbled, their moms would respond using less complex words, single-word sentences, and shorter words. The more the moms did this, the easier and faster it became for the babies to learn new speech sounds during their second session in the playroom.

    The results of the study also indicated that single-word utterances appeared to have the largest impact on the infants’ ability to learn language, causing the researchers to believe that those types of responses might be just the ones the babies want from their parents.

    Goldstein told the Cornell Chronicle, “It’s not meaningless. Babbling is a social catalyst for babies to get information from the adults around them.”

    ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

    Jennifer Schwade, a visiting scholar in the Department of Psychology and co-director of the B.A.B.Y. Lab who contributed to the study, also shared, “Babbling has a profound effect on parents. We are just starting to learn how babbling changes how parents talk to their infants.”

    This is not the first study to suggest that babies take an active role at how they learn speech, as Fatherly reports. Some found that as babies grow and reach different stages of development, the way they babble changes, causing their parents to also modify how they baby-talk. There has also been research suggesting that when babies babble at certain items, their parents tend to talk about those items specifically.

    While more work needs to be done to explore this field of research further, do not stop talking to your baby no matter how one-sided the exchange might seem. He loves to hear mom’s voice!

    ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

    Your baby may be too young to talk, but he has his own unique way of communicating his needs to you! Click here to learn about how you can understand whatever your little one wants to tell you, even without words.

    More from Smart Parenting

View More Stories About
Recommended Videos
View more articles