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Babies organize mothers’ verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key, new research shows.
It’s long been known that babies modify their sounds to become more speech-like in response to feedback from their caregivers, and that they learn things have names because caregivers name objects. But how do specific types of babbling elicit particular parental behavior?
“We expected that mothers would respond more often when babbling was more mature, and they did.”
To answer this, researchers recorded and recombined the vocalizations of 40 nine-month-olds and their mothers, using a “playback paradigm,” widely used in animal studies, to assess how specific forms of sounds and actions by infants influence parental behavior.
Researchers conducted sessions in a playroom with toys. They outfitted infants with denim overalls in which a wireless microphone was concealed. The lab was outfitted with video cameras to record responses during live play.