What is Infant Directed Speech?
Infant Directed Speech (IDS), or ‘baby talk’ is a method of communication which makes it easier for babies to pick up on emotional intentions, and no, we’re not referring to a random combination of high-pitched noises and nonsense words (‘goo’, ‘ga’, ‘bah’, etc).
Using IDS properly
Effective IDS has 3 criteria:
- Higher pitch (tone of voice) compared to usual
- Intonation contours are curvy; tone shifts rapidly from high to low, which makes it sound me happy and upbeat
- Sentences are spoken as a slower pace, as this allows the child time to process and participate in social interaction
Impact of IDS on language development
Helps baby listen and differentiate between different words
Babies listening to their parents talk is the equivalent to an adult trying to learn a foreign language. Parents need to elongate their pronunciation and pause after every word; this can help your child realize where different words start and end. As a result, babies often learn how to recognize and pronounce words faster. Studies show that 2 year olds spoken to in IDS had a wider average range of vocabulary (100 words) compared to the control group (60 words).
IDS is socially captivating
Babies prefer hearing IDS. The more exaggerated the tone of voice, the more socially engaged your baby is in the conversation. The slow pace of the conversation allows your baby to be present and engaged in the social interaction. Engagement is important because babies need to be engaged to learn a language. Studies have found that when there is more variance in voice pitch, babies are more likely to babble and coo in response. Although they are not using real words, they are learning the give-and-take of a conversation, and in turn, are gaining social experiences.
The big picture
Early language skills are a strong predictor of subsequent language development. Early improvements in language skills could have a positive domino effect on future speech development. Who could’ve known that ‘baby talk’ has such a significant effect on language and speech development?