Before I had kids, I vowed never to use baby talk. Here’s why I was wrong.

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Mom and writer Rosemary Counter explains how she learned to “speak baby.” Research shows that using “Motherese” – a form of communication with a higher pitch, more variability in tones, and lots of repetition — helps babies learn language. “In just a few sleepy months of intense immersion, I mastered the inflections, intonation, grammar and vocabulary (“Who mastered it? Mommy mastered it!”) of what many linguists consider a language proper,” she writes. Research from LENA published in Pediatrics found that those hours of conversation could pay off. Early talk and exposure to conversation during the narrow developmental window between 18 and 24 months, they found, accounted for a 14 to 27 percent variance in vocabulary, comprehension and higher IQ scores 10 years later. Counter concludes that though one-sided conversations may feel awkward or embarrassing, she’s committed to talking with her baby using Motherese as frequently as possible.

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