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Pretend Talk Makes Babies Smart

Carter is beginning to talk. We are all having a hard time understanding what he wants because he tries to talk in a long string of sounds and there is not one word that anybody recognizes. What should we do? Researchers at the University of Iowa and Indiana University say, “Pretending to understand what babies say can make them smarter.” The lead researcher, Julie Gros-Louis, a psychology professor, says that if a mama responds to a babbling baby by guessing out loud what he wants, the baby begins to understand that noises are a way to get something. This is the way a baby learns that his noises communicate. So, the baby moves from crying, to pointing at the milk, to saying a specific noise that means milk. It’s not magic. It is the ultimate guessing game. The game is the same in English, Spanish or Chinese.

As reported by Cari Romm, “Pretending to Understand What Babies Say Can Make Them Smarter.” The Atlantic, August 29, 2014.

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