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November 27, 2018 Tuesday 04:09:49 PM IST

“Parentese” is good for infant’s language development

Parent Interventions

Researchers of University of Washington suggests that talking slowly and clearly,often with exaggerated vowels and intonation, the so called “parentese” works well with infant’s language development.

Speaking directly to the baby with a style of speech known as "parentese". It involves talking slowly and clearly, often with exaggerated vowels and intonation. Research due to scientists of the University of Washington's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) suggests that “parentese” helps improve infant language development and has direct impact on infant’s vocabulary. Results of the study are published in online in the Developmental Science.

"We know from over 30 years of research in the lab that infants prefer parentese over standard speech, and that infants who are exposed to more parentese at home have larger vocabularies as toddlers," said Patricia Kuhl, co-director of I-LABS. "We wanted to explore whether parents benefit from "coaching" by adapting their own speaking style and whether this would affect their child's language outcomes."

Parentese has to be distinguished from "baby talk," which is typically a mash-up of nonsense words and silly sounds (think: "cutesie-wootsie"). Whereas parentese is fully grammatical speech that involves real words, elongated vowels and exaggerated tones of voice - it sounds happy and conveys total engagement with the child. Spoken directly to the child -- and used across many languages -- parentese resonates with infants, researchers say, and helps babies tune in socially to their parents, and motivates them to talk back, even if that just means babbling.


Any parent can incorporate these communication strategies in their usual activities. Parents are a child's first and most important teachers. The study show parents can have an immediate positive effect on the growth of their child's language.

Source: DOI: 10.1111/desc.12762


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