There’s something about babies that makes most adults start talking to them in baby talk and it turns out, that’s a good thing. While there’s this idea that using sing-songy speech, babbling and nonsense words with infants doesn’t teach them the right way to speak, new research finds that the opposite is true.
Astudyfrom the University of Florida suggests that our instincts to use baby talk with babies is actually helpful and helps them learn to speak themselves. Researchers gave infants between six and eight months old two voices to listen to: one that sounds like adult voices and one that mimics the sounds of a baby voice, with shorter and smaller sounds. And they found the babies “displayed a robust and distinct preference for speech” that’s similar to their own.
Study authors believe babies are drawn to baby talk - which they call “infant-directed speech” - because they’re hearing the way their first words will sound when they start talking. So basically, using baby talk with babies helps introduce them to speaking in a way they can mimic. “It seems to stimulate motor production of speech, not just the perception of speech,” explains study authorDr. Matthew Masapollo.“It’s not just goo-goo ga-ga.” The baby talk engages them with speech on their beginner level, which helps them learn to start making those basic sounds.