According to a new study conducted by scientists from McGill University and the University of Florida, using baby talk - or infant-directed speech - may help them learn to speak real words. Mimicking the sounds of a smaller vocal tract might clue babies into how words should sound coming out from their own mouths.

Baby talk is when adults use proper words spoken in a higher pitch, at a slower pace and with a typical singsong pronunciation. "It seems to stimulate motor production of speech, not just the perception of speech. It's not just goo-goo ga-ga," explains Matthew Masapollo, study co-author and assistant professor at the University of Florida.

The researchers found that babies between 6 and 8 months "displayed a robust and distinct preference for speech with resonances specifying a vocal tract that is similar in size and length to their own," while infants between the ages of 4 to 6 months did not have such a preference. This difference suggests that the older babies' capacity to control their voices is the reason why infant-like sounds are more appealing to them.

Even if some parents may be discouraged from engaging in baby talk, the patterns of this kind of speaking could be a key factor in helping newborns, babies and infants to babble, speak and learn a language.

Picture: An infant and her parents (William Fortunato - Pexels)