Talking to Your Infant in a Meaningful Way

Enrichment Therapies

February 27, 2017

close up of a baby laying in a crib

Talking to Your Infant in a Meaningful Way

By Tessa Lancaster, M.A., CCC-SLP

Did you know that the way you talk to your infant can impact his language development? I recently came across an article describing a study that addresses the benefits of talking to your child. The article, found here, describes a study completed by researchers at the University of Iowa and Indiana University. You can find the journal article here. Researchers looked at mothers’ responses to their babies’ vocalizations. Responses were broken up into two types. In one type, mothers responded to their infants’ noises by attempting to shift the baby’s attention to something else (e.g., a toy). In the other type of response, mothers heard noises and shaped the noises into meaningful words. For example, if a baby babbled “ma-ma-ma,” the mother might have responded with something like, “Yes! I am mama. Mama!” Responses were recorded across a six-month time span. One month after finishing recordings, mothers were asked to complete a survey focusing on the speech development of their children. Mothers who responded to their babies by shaping noises into meaningful words reported that their babies were using more consonant-vowel vocalizations. These types of vocalizations are more like real syllables, and therefore more like real words. These babies were also reported to more often direct vocalizations toward their mothers, rather than vocalize randomly. What do these results mean? The way you talk to your baby matters! Focus on responding to your infant’s vocalizations as if they are real words. You never know how this will impact your child’s language development in the near future.

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317


5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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