Parents change the way they speak when they respond to baby babble. And as it turns out, this phenomenon occurs for an important reason. Nothing beats the cuteness of infant babble. One day your little baby will wake up and start speaking in long, passionate sentences of gibberish. The fact that this chatter contains no actual words but it made up of the exact sounds and intonations we use in our speech makes it hilarious.
Babies love trying to imitate the world around them, even though they cannot quite do it right yet. Doting parents tend to respond to baby babble with baby talk. They generally talk in the third person about everyone, avoiding the pronouns "you" and "me".
Instead, a mother might coo, "Mommy loves Jamesy!" when little James looks at her and excitedly chatters away in noncoherent speech.
It turns out that parents adjust their speech to use shorter, simplified sentences when responding to their infants' babble talk. It is the babies who actually alter their learning environments with their own actions.
The researchers came to this conclusion by studying thirty mother-infant pairs engaging in free play. The babies wore hidden cameras that recorded their mother's speech and facial expressions. When mothers responded to baby chatter with adjusted simplified speech, their infants learned more sounds the following day.
The results of this study suggest that the infant alters his environment for optimal learning. When he babble's, adults respond in a way that sets him up for success.
The study's authors urge parents to spend time engaging with their developing infants. Paying attention and responding back to their babble, as if in conversation with them, will improve their learning.
So baby babble has a particular purpose. Infants are not just trying unsuccessfully to imitate our speech. It is actually intended as a social catalyst. "Talking" to adults gets adults to talk back, so that baby can learn about the world around her.