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Babies Listen to Babies

May 10, 2018

Babies prefer the sound of other babies to their own parents’ vocalizations.



Baby talk. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

(Baby “ba-ba-ba” sounds)

Babies just love the sound of other babies, according to science. In an experiment,  McGill University speech scientist Linda Polka and her team found th at 4 to 5-month-old infants pay more attention to the high-pitched babbling sounds made by other infants than to the vocalizations of their own parents.

LINDA POLKA (McGill University):

The babies chose to listen much longer to the infant sounds.


Some even smiled or moved their mouths as if to practice talking. Polka thinks this preference for baby sounds may be crucial to future speech development.


They need to pay attention to their own voice because that’s going to play a very imporant role in their learning to talk.


At a recent meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, she noted that this could also help explain why many adults talk to babies in a high-pitched voice. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard