Shhh, mummy! Babies prefer each other’s voices | Dailytrust

Shhh, mummy! Babies prefer each other’s voices

Try not to take it personally, but babies find other infants’ inane babbling more interesting than anything you’ve got to say to them.
A new study has found that six-month-old babies strongly prefer listening to other babies than adults.
And experts believe this could be a crucial process in learning how to speak.
A new study has found that six-month-old babies strongly prefer listening to other babies than adults (illustrated with a stock image) and experts believe this could be a crucial process in learning how to speak
Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Québec, played repeating vowel sounds to the babies that mimicked either those made by an adult woman or those made by another infant.
They measured how long each sound held the baby’s attention and found that the babies had a clear preference for the infant-sounding vowels.
In fact, they listened to them 40 per cent longer on average than the adult-sounding ones.
Researchers   played repeating vowel sounds to the babies that mimicked either those made by an adult woman or those made by a baby and found that the infants listened to baby noises 40 per cent longer on average than the adult-sounding ones. A stock image of a woman talking to an infant is shown
Baby talk boosts speech
Parents who babble in baby-speak to their new born are helping them to learn more words that if they speak regularly.
A study published last year showed that what spurs early language development is not so much the quantity of words as the style of speech and social context in which speech occurs.
Researchers at the University of Washington and University of Connecticut examined thousands of 30-second snippets of verbal exchanges between parents and babies.
They measured parents’ use of a regular speaking voice versus an exaggerated, animated baby talk style, and whether speech occurred one-on-one between parent and child or in group settings.
Study co-author Dr Patricia Juhl, of the University of Washington’s Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences, said: ‘What our analysis shows is that the prevalence of baby talk in one-on-one conversations with children is linked to better language development, both concurrent and future.’
The more parents exaggerated vowels – for example ‘How are youuuuu?’ – and raised the pitch of their voices, the more the one-year-olds babbled, which is a forerunner of word production.
The researchers explained that this was not down to a preference for a familiar sound, because the babies who took part in the experiment were not yet babbling themselves, so the infant-like vowel sounds that they heard were ‘not yet part of their everyday listening experience’.
Some of the babies showed their interest by responding to the adult sounds with neutral, passive faces, but smiling and moving their mouths as they listened to the infant sounds.
It was as if they were recognising that this was a sound that they could try to make themselves, the researchers said in the study, published in in the journal Developmental Science.
Senior author of the study, Professor Linda Polka, said parents may already know this, intuitively.
‘Perhaps, when we use a high, infant-like voice pitch to speak to our babies, we are actually preparing them to perceive their own voice,’ she said.
‘As adults, we use language to communicate, but when a young infant starts to make speech sounds, it often has more to do with exploring than with communicating.
‘In fact, babies typically vocalise when they are alone, without any interaction or eye contact with others.
Culled from Mail Online

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