Your Baby Understands More Than You Think

(Or at least, more than developmental experts have always thought

Posted by The Baby News

Developmental psychologists have always pegged the first birthday as the point at which most babies start to understand words. Sure, an infant might know “mommy” or “daddy.” But words for objects that look different in different situations – a small apple in a bowl, a big red apple in a book, half an apple in mom’s hand – are harder to learn, because words like “apple” represent categories rather than individuals.

Guess what: Your nonverbal, not yet pointing, scarcely mobile little one understands a whole lot more than you think (or maybe you really knew all along?). After that, babies probably don’t make any huge leaps in language understanding until they reach around 14 months.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted tests with 6- to 9-month-olds and found that the older babies were no more advanced than the younger ones in how they understood words like “apple” (on a screen and on a table) or “nose” (on a screen and on someone’s face).  The researchers also children from 10 to 20 months complete the same tests to see how their abilities compared with the younger group.

Study co-author Daniel Swingley said:

“I think this study presents a great message to parents: You can talk to your babies and they’re going to understand a bit of what you’re saying. They’re not going to give us back witty repartee, but they understand some of it. And the more they know, the more they can build on what they know.”

At what age did you start noticing that your baby understood words? 


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