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Even 6-month olds are starting to learn words

Even 6-month olds are starting to learn words


Claudia Boyd-Barrett

posted in Parenting

Your baby may understand something about what words mean as early as 6 months old, and their comprehension improves the more you talk to them, new research suggests.

Scientists at Duke University invited 51 babies and their parents into a lab. Each baby sat on their caregivers’ lap in front of a computer screen. The babies were shown 2 images on the screen at a time, while the parent was prompted to say a sentence that named one of the items. Sometimes the items were related, such as “juice” and “milk.” Others were unrelated, such as “nose” and “bottle.”

According to the findings published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, the babies looked longer at the picture of the item mentioned when the 2 images were unrelated than when they were related.


What does this mean? That the babies knew some words, such as “juice” and “milk,” are more similar than others, such as “nose” and “bottle.” They may not have known exactly what the words meant, but they understood some words related to each other.

The researchers went a step further and recorded the babies’ interactions with adults at home with video and audio recorders. They found that the more adults talked to the babies and spoke the name of objects that were in front of them, the better those babies were at recognizing related words in the experiment.

The takeaway? Talk to your baby and show interest in whatever she’s looking at, lead study author Elika Bergelson told Reuters. Even if your baby can’t talk yet, her language skills are developing.

What do you think of this study’s findings? What do you do to encourage your child’s language development?

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