Study Finds Babies Can Understand The Meaning Of Words Before They Can Talk, So Get Gabbing Mom & Dad

By
Share
Ad failed to load

Although it’s a bit of a cliche saying, it’s true that babies are like little sponges. Babies can pick up on things like emotional cues and stressful environments, and they’re extremely observant. So, it’s not too surprising that researchers at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, recently discovered that babies can understand the meaning of words before they can talk. What is especially noteworthy, however, is that the study ultimately determined how babies best acquire language and what parents can do to speed up the learning process.

A study published in the journal, Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, found that babies as young as 6 months old can associate objects to words. Professor Elike Bergelson, the lead author of the study, observed 51 healthy 6-month-old babies in a trial that involved eye-tracking and images on a computer screen. On the computer screen, researchers displayed pairs of related objects, like a stroller and car, for example, and pairs of non-related objects, like a foot and a bottle of juice, according to the Daily Mail. The parent, who could not see the screen, would then be instructed to say a sentence containing one of the objects. Researchers then determined how long the baby looked at the mentioned object. The trial was conducted 32 times, according to The Guardian, and half of the trials involved unrelated images while the other half focused on related images.

Interestingly enough, Bergelson found that the babies paid more attention to the unrelated images. So, for example, if a parent said a sentence containing the word “car,” the baby would look at the picture of the car longer if it was paired with an orange as opposed to a stroller. This means that a baby knows enough about a word to “tell it apart from the unrelated referent,” according to Scientific American, and that your baby likely knows that a foot bears no relation to a dog, for example. When words are too similar to one another, however, babies tend to get confused.

Ad failed to load

In the second part of the study, researchers analyzed video and audio of 41 babies in their home environment. Bergelson and her team concluded that the more parents talked with their kids at home, the more accurate they were during the first part of the study.

Translation: talking to your babies often does wonders for their early development. And most importantly, parents should talk to their kids with purpose. What I mean by purpose is that, if you’re talking to your baby about a bottle of milk, for example, make sure that the bottle of milk is in their line of vision. Bergelson noted in the study that babies have an easier time of understanding and identifying words when they can actually see them. This information allows parents to take a more active role in their child's language acquisition, and it gives them a better opportunity to notice if there's a delay in their baby's development.

Ad failed to load

Bergelson added, according to The Atlantic:

Babies are listening, and you should treat them as conversational partners.

And Bergelson isn't alone in her thinking. Numerous studies have found that talking to your baby is an easy way to boost your child's potential and development. Professor Anne Fernald, a developmental psychologist at Stanford University, explained, according to The Guardian:

Ad failed to load
Parents who talk more to their kids are more likely to realise their developmental potential. You are obligated to feed them, wash them, and clothe them. Talk to them while you are doing it. We are not saying quit your job and home school them.

Although having full-blown convos with your infant might not be the most thrilling thing, this study proves that talking with your baby is crucial to their early development, and it suggests that parents should take a more active role in their child's language acquisition. In short: get gabbing, parents.

Ad failed to load

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}