Six Studies That Give Useful Tips On Stimulation, Brain and Vocabulary Development in Babies and Toddlers

This Grandma has collected Science Daily reported Baby Studies for over a decade. Here are six of the best that include easy to incorporate tips during interactions with your baby and toddler grandchildren and to pass along to their parents.

NEWBORN TO THREE MONTHS

Many times, we think the newborn is a blob that just needs feeding, changing and holding. This July 8, 2021 Science Daily reported study is a keeper and one to pass along as it gives several distinct activities to stimulate a newborn.

The study shows that newborns stimulated to manipulate objects and observe adults performing everyday task helps their social, motor and cognitive development. It recommends positioning the newborn to be able to observe what is happening. For example, “babies can copy facial expressions as soon as they’re born. We suggest they imitate manipulative motor actions just as much as expressions. When babies see adults using their hands, they copy the movements, and this helps them use their own hands.”

Although babies are unable to reach for objects in the first three months of life, the study recommends to still encourage them to reach out even before they can do so, stimulate them to use their hands, and not wait until they reach out on their own. As an example of the activities given, yes, we grandmas always smile at the baby and offer a finger for the baby to hold, but we may not know that this is the scientific reinforcement of the association between touch and visual stimulus.

Newborns to three months should be stimulated to hold and reach for objects, study says”

BABY

Six to Nine Months and Even Earlier

In a Science Daily November 20, 2017 reported study of six to nine month olds, babies’ word knowledge correlated with the proportion of time they heard people talking about objects in their immediate surroundings.

Even before they talk, the study shows the baby has a basic understanding of words for food and body parts and “also recognize that the meanings of some words, like car and stroller, are more alike than others, like car and juice.” Talking often with and around the baby about what is happening right now and things babies can see and touch better builds vocabulary. The babies learn words better when they are related in an activity in which they are currently participating in the here and now. I love this quote from one of the researchers, Elika Bergelson:

“My take-home to parents always is, the more you can talk to your kid, the better, . . .[b]ecause they are listening and learning from what you say, even if it doesn’t appear to be so.”

Car, stroller, juice: Babies understand when words are related”

Nine Months and Even Earlier to Twenty Months

We always wonder if we should be talking baby talk to babies or not. The answer is yes. Talk baby talk. Repeat often. In an August 1, 2018 Science Daily reported study of nine month olds, the results showed that some types of baby talk words — more than other words — can help infants develop their vocabulary more quickly between nine and twenty months old. One of the concrete examples to follow to help babies identify words in speech is to use words that end in ‘y’ — such as tummy, mummy and doggy — or words that repeat sounds — such as choo-choo and night-night.

Somehow it is thought to be old fashioned to talk this sort of baby talk to a baby; however, this study shows otherwise.

Baby talk words build infants’ language skills”

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180801102605.htm

BABY TO TODDLER

Eleven and Twelve Month Olds and Even Earlier

As a mother and grandmother, I always waited for the moment that the toddler went from speaking single words to putting words together getting to a full sentence. This study shows that babies can recognize combinations of words even before they have spoken their first word. A March 31, 2021 Science Daily reported study on eleven and twelve month olds show babies, even before they speak, learn individual words and more complex phrases at the same time, which challenges the this Grandma’s perspective that they progress from single words to phrases and sentences.

Researchers say the study is the first to provide evidence that young children can pick up and understand multiword sequences before they can talk or begin producing such combinations themselves.” It shows us to use common phrases repeatedly, such as “clap your hands,” to foster that development. I guess we can add adjectives, such as “bouncing ball,” to just “ball,” and common sequences of words rather than single words earlier than we thought.

Infants’ language skills more advanced than first words suggest”

 

Bilingualism is not Guaranteed, But There Are Factors We May Not Have Considered to Incorporate

Our second youngest grandson, at age three and a half, is becoming bilingual in English and German. It is amazing what he understands. Of course, his mother has all the attributes of what the following study recommends for this: exposure to each language from a highly proficient speaker and opportunities and encouragement to use both languages.

An August 23, 2018 Science Daily reported study addresses bilingual language development from babies and toddlers who hear two languages from birth. They are learning more so vocabulary so are slower in learning. An interesting take away from the study is the importance of the quality of the language experience as well as the quantity of the language experience, and the opportunity to participate in conversation. The children should be exposed to the language most spoken as well as the second language spoken often and speak both languages.

Children take longer to learn two languages at once compared to just one — don’t fret”

TAKEAWAY

We grandparents and the parents of our grandchildren do much of what the studies above recommend by instinct. We wonder if what we are doing is good for the baby’s development. I personally like the concrete examples and activities that we can add to our repertoire. The greatest benefit of the studies above is to reinforce that we all are doing a good job.

And, remember two of this Grandma’s mantras:

By the time our grandchildren walk down the aisle, they will be able to speak in full sentences and be understood, whatever we or their parents do or don’t do.

Our children survived us and our grandchildren will survive their parents.

 

Joy,

 

Mema

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