Promoting Language Development In Babies

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  Published on Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Promoting Language Development In Babies

Library Home  >  Approaches to Early Childhood EducationHealth, Wellbeing & Nutrition
  Published on Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Researchers from the University of Manchester have shown that babies may start communicating earlier than many people assume, through basic gestures such as pointing and holding up objects to share, and that these actions are often overlooked by caregivers missing valuable opportunities for communication.

The researchers showed that when carers engage with the sharing behaviours and talk to babies about the things they are interested in it can enhance language development.

The researchers based their findings on observations of 'sharing and giving behaviours' in 24 10-month-old babies.

The study was divided into two parts: in the first part, designed to encourage pointing, babies were held by their parents and walked along a row of interesting objects hanging from the ceiling.

In the second part of the study, designed to promote holding and giving behaviours, the babies were observed as they sat opposite their parents with two sets of toys to play with.

Director of the ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (LuCiD), at the University of Manchester Professor Elena Lieven said the research demonstrates that babies may be doing more to communicate than many of us usually assume, and at an earlier age.

"Many people think that a child's first word is the most important milestone in learning to speak, but first gestures have a direct effect on language development," she said.

"Most parents and caregivers are often puzzled by the intentions behind children's 'sharing and giving' behaviours, despite them being widespread. However, by understanding these early behaviours, caregivers have a great opportunity to help support children's later language development," Professor Lieven added.

Professor Lieven said acknowledging the things babies are interested in and talking to them about it helps their language development.

"The ability to share and direct attention is an essential basis for typical language development. Previous studies have shown that in children on the autism spectrum this ability is impaired," she said.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Wednesday, 19 August 2020



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