BookmarkBookmarkTickBookmarkAddCheckBoxFilledCheckBoxCircleBumpCheckedFilledMedical

Here’s the Right Way to Get Your Baby to Be More Verbal, According to Experts

It’s not what you say, but how you say it.
save article
profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
By Stephanie Grassullo, Contributing Writer
Updated November 27, 2018

When you become a parent, you start to speak another language: Parentese. The style of speech is associated with talking slowly and clearly with exaggerated vowels and intonation, and is believed to improve infant language. But mastering the true art of the language is not as easy as many think. And, according to a study, there can be a big difference in a child’s vocabualry for those who are “fluent” in parentese, and those who fall just a bit short.

In the study, researchers used audio recordings of participating families’ typical weekends who had babies who were 6 months old. They were asked to record two weekend days when babies were 6, 10 and 14 months old. Parents were also randomly assigned into two groups—a control and a coaching group.

While both groups were recorded, those in the coaching group participated in individual parent coaching sessions where they received language-interaction and “brain building” tips and discussed their recordings with the coach. Babies whose parents received coaching during the study were significantly more verbal by 14 months old.

“Most parents know that the amount of language their child hears is important. What we shared with them through coaching is that how they talk to their baby may matter even more,” said Naja Ferjan Ramírez, the lead author of the study. “We explained to them the research behind parentese, and made sure they were aware of the connection between their language input, and their speaking style in particular, and their baby’s language outcomes.”

According to the study, parents in the coached group increased the use of parentese by 15 percent when babies were between 6 and 14 months. Parents in the control group showed less growth in their strategies, averaging about 7 percent.

And babies of coached families babbled in about 43 percent of the analyzed recordings, while control babies babbled in 30 percent of the recordings. In addition, coaching group babies had a much larger vocabulary at 14 months than control babies.

The takeaway? Parentese is not what many people think of as “baby talk.” While most tend to lace together silly sounds and words, there’s a lot more involved in communicating with baby. Parentese is fully-grammatical speech using real words, elongated vowels and exaggerated tones. To put it simply, it sounds happy and conveys total engagement with your kid. When you speak the language correctly, it helps baby tune in to you and motivates him to talk back, even if he’s just making babbling noises.

Wondering when baby will start to speak up a little more? Find out what ages babies typically start talking and how you can encourage them along the way.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List
ADVERTISEMENT

Next on Your Reading List

closeup of baby cooing
When Does Baby Start Cooing?
Medically Reviewed by Lauren Crosby, MD
mom and toddler looking at photo album
Reminiscing With Your Toddler Is Powerful Tool for Language Learning
By Wyndi Kappes
Singing to Baby Is Crucial for Language Learning, Study Says
Singing to Baby Is Crucial for Language Learning, Study Says
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
build a bear donating bears to classrooms for national teddy bear day 2023
Build-A-Bear Is Donating Stuffed "Learning Buddies" to Schools in Need
By Wyndi Kappes
mother holding ipad for baby at home
Baby’s Screen Time Linked to Developmental Delays, Study Says
By Wyndi Kappes
parents talking to baby
When Do Babies Say Mama or Dada?
Medically Reviewed by Dina DiMaggio Walters, MD
father and toddler son talking at home
How to Encourage Your Toddler’s Speech Development
By Lauren Barth
ADVERTISEMENT
father talking to toddler while sitting on stairs at home
Talking to Your Toddler Could Make Their Brain More Efficient
By Wyndi Kappes
mother teaching toddler sign language while sitting on couch at home
How to Teach Baby 25 Key Words in Baby Sign Language
By Ashlee Neuman
young boy resting his head on his mother's pregnant belly
Baby May Practice Crying Even Before They Are Born, Study Says
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
father talking to baby, smiling
Parents Worldwide Use the Same "Baby Voice," New Study Reveals
By Wyndi Kappes
mother and young toddler sitting on the couch at home watching something on ipad
5 Developmental Patterns This Expert Is Seeing in Pandemic Babies
By Jocelyn M. Wood, CCC-SLP
Baby Talk Actually Helps Infants Form Their First Words, Study Says
Baby Talk Actually Helps Infants Form Their First Words, Study Says
By Nehal Aggarwal
ADVERTISEMENT
How to Perfect Your 'Baby Talk' to Boost Baby's Speech Development
How to Perfect Your 'Baby Talk' to Boost Baby's Speech Development
By Erin van Vuuren
Big sister crawling behind baby sister down hallway at home.
Babies’ Language Skills May Be More Advanced Than First Words Suggest
By Nehal Aggarwal
mom helps her toddler learn through app in the car
Toddler FaceTime Games That Boost Verbal Skills and Family Bonds
By Jocelyn M. Wood, CCC-SLP
Toddler Speech Delay?
Toddler Speech Delay?
By Hannah Chow-Johnson, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and pediatrician at Loyola University Health System
ADVERTISEMENT
Signs of Speech or Developmental Delay in a Toddler?
Signs of Speech or Developmental Delay in a Toddler?
By Michael Lee, MD
mom holding and embracing her one year old son
How to Boost Baby’s Speech Sound Development in Their First Year
By Jocelyn M. Wood, CCC-SLP
mom reading to smiling baby during tummy time
How Can I Help Baby Learn to Speak?
By The Bump Editors
ADVERTISEMENT
Article removed.