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Early years

03rd Feb 2020

Researchers find babies prefer the sound of other babies more than parent’s voice

Melissa Carton

This really doesn’t surprise me.

A new study has found that babies prefer to listen to the sounds of their peers to the cooing of their mother.

Researchers who tested babies on their preference for different speakers by using a specialised speech synthesizer have discovered that babies are more interested in high pitched speech, particularly that of other babies.

Yes, even as tiny tots they prefer talking to their mates rather than their parents. Doesn’t bode well for our chances of being listened to when they’re teenagers does it?

The apparatus allowed researchers compare the babies’ responses to the vowels produced by infants their own age, as well as the vowels typical of an adult female’s speech.

They tested the babies’ responses to different vowel sounds by training them to look towards or away from a chequerboard image. Simply by turning their heads, the babies indicated which sounds they preferred.

The results concluded that babies as young as five-months-old listened to the infant vowels for 40 per cent longer than that of the adult vowels, showing a clear preference for vowels that closely matched the sounds they produce themselves.

Linda Polka, a professor at McGill University, was quoted in Eurekalert as saying;

“Access to infant speech, likely including a baby’s own vocalizations, seems to have a broad and significant impact, influencing receptive, expressive and motivational aspects of speech development.”

I’ve noticed with my own children how quickly as babies and toddlers that they gravitated towards other small children, even when they spoke different languages. While staying with friends in Berlin my then three-year-old son played constantly with their daughter of the same age, despite neither of them being able to understand a word the other was saying.

I’ve also noticed a notable change in my two-year-old daughter when she gets to be around other babies and children.

So there you have it, if you want to get your child’s attention all you got to do is sound exactly like them.