Baby Talk Works

The more baby talk (e.g., words that repeat themselves, like choo-choo, or diminutives, like bunny or Mommy) that babies are exposed to, the quicker they grasp language, according to a new study at Scotland’s University of Edinburgh.

The study’s assessments of nine-month-old children suggest that those who hear baby-talk words more frequently are faster at picking up new words between nine and 21 months, and researchers say these findings suggest some types of baby-talk words—more than other words—can help infants develop their vocabulary more quickly.

The team says words that end in y—such as tummy, Mommy, and doggy—or words that repeat sounds—such as choo-choo and night-night—could help infants identify words in speech. As well as analyzing diminutives ending in y and reduplication—which contains repeated syllables—they checked for onomatopoeic words that sound like their meanings, such as woof and splash.

They examined the rate of the infants’ language development by measuring the size of the children’s vocabulary at nine, 15, and 21 months. They found that infants who heard a higher proportion of diminutive words and words with repeated syllables developed their language more quickly between nine and 21 months. They did not find this effect on vocabulary growth for onomatopoeic baby-talk words.

“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,” said Dr. Mitsuhiko Ota, School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences.


  1. For the baby, even a few days old, is also important to explain everything. He cannot answer with words, and therefore it often seems to many that he is not able to understand words either. But research has shown that this is not the case at all! D. Chamberlain’s book, The Mind of Your Newborn Baby, describes this experiment: “In 1978, French scientists proved that newborns can distinguish their mother’s voice from a variety of other voices. The book by K. Elyacheff “Hidden pain” describes many cases in which children of the first months of life recovered from psychosomatic diseases after psychotherapy sessions, when the therapist simply spoke with them. Many parents notice that the child understands the speech addressed to him, but often do not believe their feelings, say “Wow! As if he understands! “- and he really understands!

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