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Scientists Now Understand What Babies Are Talking About

One must be amazed to know that when babies coo, they might be instructing their elders how to talk to them. Scientists have arrived at this conclusion that baby talk helps infants learn to speak; it also seems that infants might actually be the master! Babies are the new boss these days!

It is well proven that when parents engage in baby talks, it accelerates the latter’s learning process. But new research reveals that babbling of babies change to enable the infant to moderate how their parents interact with them. This, in turn, helps increase the baby's learning potential. “Infants are actually shaping their own learning environments in ways that make learning easier to do,” study co-author Steven Elmlinger, a psychology graduate student at Cornell University, said in a statement.

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Statements directed to the babies, use of simple words, short sentences, voice modulation at a higher pitch, slower speech but supplemented with actions have proven to be helpful for the children. It’s a signal to them that it’s time to be attentive and pick up the language from their parents. Though less studied, the opposite also seems to be true. When babies babble, they are more focussed and can comprehend stimulus. This is termed as translation and success rate is also quite high!

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It could be possible that parents are not influencing the babies, but it's the babies who are shaping the parents, as well. According to the research findings, the babbles of babies change as babies reach different levels of development. Some researchers also indicated that parents are more inclined to talk about an object when the baby babbles looking at that particular object. As an example, if a baby babbles looking at a cow, the parents are most likely to utter the word "Cow" or "Moo." In both cases, the baby has set in motion what it wants to learn.

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"We know that parents' speech influences how infants learn — that makes sense — and that infants' motivations also change how they learn," Elmlinger said. “But what hasn’t been studied is the link between how infants can change the parents, or just change the learning environment as a whole. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

For a better understanding, Elmingler and team conducted a study where they observed 30 baby- mom pairs in a play zone for 30 minutes duration twice. 9-10-month-old babies were allowed to play with toys by themselves and roam around freely. It was observed that moms used less complex words every time their babies babbled. The more parents did this, the quicker the babies picked up new speech sounds. Single words had the highest impact on babies. Elmlinger suspects that maybe that's exactly what they’re asking for with all the babbling.

The research is in the initial phase, and the sample size needs to be increased for a firm conclusion. But, until then, moms and dads can be happy with the fact that their kids babbling “is not meaningless.”

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