“Babibobu”, “dada dodo”, “areuh areuh” … Admittedly, anyone looks stupid when they start to “talk baby”, to make a whole bunch of sounds forget a toddler’s attention. But it works! In a new study, recently published in the journal Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, researchers say babies prefer the “talk baby”, what they call infant-directed speech (“Infant directed speech”) to speech directed by an adult, regardless of the language they are used to hearing.
Some bilingual families fear that teaching two mother tongues at the same time will lead to a language delay. This study suggests that this is unlikely to be the case, and at least shows that bilingual babies are on the right track in terms ofspeech acquisition. The babies of bilingual families followed in the study were in any case interested in “talking baby” at the same age as those living in a monolingual family.
“We found that the development of learning and attention is similar in infants, whether they learn one or two languages,” said Megha Sundara, co-author of the study. “And, of course, learning a language earlier helps you assimilate it better, so bilingualism is a win-win,” she added.
For the study, which took place in 17 labs across four continents, the researchers followed 333 bilingual babies and 384 monolingual babies aged 6 to 9 months and 12 to 15 months. On their parent’s lap, babies heard a variety of sounds, from “baby talk” to “normal” speaking, and in their different languages. And the more they looked in the direction the sound was coming from, the more it showed their interest in the type of talk being broadcast.
Note that while there are variations from one language to another, the “Talk baby” can be recognized by his joyful intonation, more lively and exaggerated than the classic speech. And it pleases the baby regardless of the language used, so you might as well not deprive yourself of using it when the baby is small.