Parentese: ‘Baby talk’ improves long-term language skills in infants, says study

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Baby talk or the sing-song voice in which parents usually interact with babies plays an important role in their language development and improves their long-term language skills, according to a recent study.

Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the study assigned families of six-month-old infants to "parent coaching intervention group or a no-coaching control group to determine whether specific parental language variables ("parentese") can be enhanced through intervention". The researchers recorded how parents communicated with their babies every four months, between the ages six and 18 months.

Parentese, according to ScienceDaily, involves parents adopting simple grammar and words, and exaggerated sounds to draw the baby's attention.

"Most parents know that talking to their baby is a good thing, but what they don't necessarily always understand is that it's not just hearing talk," Naja Ferjan Ramirez, researcher at the University of Washington and co-author of the study said in an interview with Inverse.

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Parentese, informed Ramirez, can lead to larger vocabularies and improved language skills for babies.

The new study reportedly builds on a 2018 study by Ramirez and other experts that concluded that parentese coaching increased babbling in babies, who produced more words at different developmental stages.