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Dads speak like grownups to their kids

Words such as “coochy coochy coo”, “awww” and “goo goo” are often heard being used by many parents when engaging with their children

 

But, according to a new study, mothers are more likely to coo at their babies, with fathers opting to address them more like small adults.

Scientists at Washington State University used speech recognition software to analyse differences in parents’ speech patterns.

The research has found that dads, who use a more adult tone with babies, help to provide a “bridge” to the outside world.

Professor Mark VanDam headed the study: “We think that maybe fathers are doing things that are conducive to their children’s learning but in a different way.”

He added: “The parents are complementary to their children’s language learning.”

During the study, data was analysed from hundreds of hours of family speech, including mothers, fathers and their pre-school children.

Throughout the research families wore microphones, and their interactions were recorded over the course of a normal day.

Experts claim they have detected distinct differences between the ways mums and dads speak to their young children.

Mums are more favourable towards “baby talk”, also known as “motherese”.

This kind of talk is believed to be particularly attractive to babies and young children.

It involves using attention-grabbing intonation and exaggerated vocal features.

Dads, in contrast, used patterns more similar to those they would use when speaking to adult friends and colleagues.

Professor VanDam added: “This isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s not a failing of the fathers.”

The study suggests that the different approach by male role models could help children deal with unfamiliar speech patterns and acquire language as they get older.

The research is part of a larger programme to examine how dads help to support children’s language development in infancy and early childhood.

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