As per a recent research, babies’ babbles reflect their own involvement in the language development.
Babbling sounds with consonant-vowel repetitions, such as ‘dada,’ are common among infants once they reach 8 months old; however, these sounds are not prevalent among infants who have profound hearing loss, that is, until they receive cochlear implants.
Now, University of Missouri research shows that babies’ repetitive babbles primarily are motivated by infants’ ability to hear themselves. Additionally, infants with profound hearing loss, who received cochlear implants to improve their hearing, soon babbled as often as their hearing peers, allowing them to catch up developmentally.
Hearing is a critical aspect of infants’ motivation to make early sounds, said Mary Fagan. The fact that they attend to and learn from their own behaviors, especially in speech, highlights how infants’ own experiences help their language, social and cognitive development.
Fagan noted “This research doesn’t diminish the importance of the speech that babies hear from others, we know they need to learn from others, but it raises our awareness that infants are not just passive recipients of what others say to them. They are actively engaged in their own developmental process.”
The research shows that infants are motivated by hearing the sounds they produce, so these sounds are functional in some way, Fagan said, adding parents who have children with profound hearing loss should be well-informed about cochlear implants before making the decision for their children to get the devices.
“Many parents elect to have their children with profound hearing loss receive cochlear implants, and that’s a decision parents alone can make,” Fagan said. “Whatever decision the parents make, the data strongly show that if parents are going to choose a cochlear implant, the sooner the better. Studies like mine show how rapidly babies with hearing loss respond to cochlear implants, often minimizing the impact on their speech, language and vocabulary development.”
The study appears in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.