I am a talker. When my kids were babies, I responded to every sound and spoke continuously to them. I remember an insurance salesperson coming to our house and commenting on how much I spoke to my six month old. She added: “I never spoke to my kids when they were babies. I am quiet. My kids were too. They spoke really late.” She probably assumed that her children were wired like her. It turns out that when it comes to communication interaction has more of an impact then previously thought.
We often think of a baby’s babbling as a way for that infant to practice his/her vocal chords and experiment with sounds. And it is all that, but according a recent study from the researchers at the University of Iowa it also serves to engage the parent/caregiver in two way communication. In other words, it’s a social tool.
Parents who engage with their baby when he/she babbles help their child build language skills earlier, and the language skills their children develop are of a higher order of complexity. The parent is essentially showing their infant that they can communicate. Through the parent’s response, the babbing baby learns that he/she can learn by interacting. So the next time you hear your child’s “goo goo ga ga”, talk back and you might just be bringing him/her a step closer to reciting Shakespeare.