Menu

It's science: Baby talk speeds up your child's language development

A study out of the University of Edinburgh is proving that saying doggy instead of dog and night-night for goodnight is actually helping your baby learn language faster.

It's science: Baby talk speeds up your child's language development

Baby talk just isn't given the respect it deserves. If you've ever had some well-meaning relative suggest that you should only use "real" words when talking to your baby, you've now got science on your side.

When parents call a train a choo-choo it doesn't slow down a baby's language development, it actually speeds it up.

A study out of the University of Edinburgh is proving that saying doggy instead of dog and night-night for goodnight is actually helping your baby learn language faster.

The researchers found that when 9-month-old babies hear a lot of diminutives ending in 'y' (like doggy, mommy, daddy, blankey) and reduplication (like choo-choo or night-night) they become faster at picking up new words during the next 11 months.

FEATURED VIDEO

"Our findings suggest that diminutives and reduplication, which are frequently found in baby talk words – across many different languages – can facilitate the early stage of vocabulary development," says the study's lead researcher, Mitsuhiko Ota, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences.

His team looked at the language development of 47 babies who were learning to speak English and found that when moms and dads used "y" words and repetition, the babies vocabularies grew faster than if parents stuck to just so-called adult talk.

"At first glance, baby‐talk words would seem to be an impediment to language learning. Introducing words that already have apparent lexical equivalents (e.g., bunny as well as rabbit; tummy as well as stomach) means adding redundancy to the lexicon," the researchers note. "[But] a growing body of literature is pointing to the possibility that baby‐talk words are more likely to be extracted and learned from the linguistic input than their adult lexical counterparts because they have certain characteristics that are in line with infants' conceptual and perceptual predispositions."

The team concluded that "even though words such as choo‐choo and bunny appear superfluous, they may play an important role in bootstrapping the development of the lexicon as a whole."

So keep on babbling that baby talk, mama. By saying choo-choo now, you could be putting your baby on the fast track.

You might also like:

These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

Keep reading Show less
Shop

Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

Keep reading Show less
Work + Money