The Police’s “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” became a Top 10 single on both sides of The Pond in 1980. Great song, but “all we want to say to you” is that it’s not the best way to speak to your infant or toddler.
A bit of baby talk and mimicking a child’s sounds during the earliest months of life makes an infant feel connected and understood, and it stimulates an infant’s brain. One study found that 2-year-olds who heard the most baby talk knew an average of 433 words, while toddlers with quieter families knew only around 169. And earlier studies reveal that how often a parent talks to a child and what kind of words are used (meaning not always “No, No, No”) has an enormous impact on emotional and intellectual development.
Now, new research reveals that at around 10-20 months of age, kids need Mom to talk to them as if they were fully verbal and to let them know that she gets what they’re feeling and thinking. Then, at 5 years old, the child will have developed the ability to understand others’ thoughts and to emphasize.
Clearly, experiencing this mind meld (researchers call it mind-mindedness, but we like the Vulcan phrase better) helps your child grow into a loving adult. So put down the cellphone, turn off the TV and talk to your child about how he or she is feeling and acting; describe what’s going on around you. Pretty soon you’ll be amazed by what an expressive, kind kid you’ve got!
© 2015 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.