The more gibberish your baby utters, the better reader he and she might grow up to be, a new study shows.
Children start to experiment with making vowel sounds about two months after birth and pick up the basic sounds of their native language by the time they are around six-months old.
But most children say their first word by one, don’t start to make (short) sentences around their second year of life, and may not read until they are any where between four and seven.
The latest research suggests that the children who gets chattiest – even when they aren’t really saying anything – might have particular literary leanings.
Scientists from Florida State University think the link they discovered could help doctors screen for reading disabilities as early as infancy.
Babies that make more complicated and strange gurgles, coos and babbling sounds grow up to be better readers, a new Florida State University study suggests
The researchers found that those children with more complex babble as babies performed better when identifying specific letters in their later reading test.
They said children with difficulties in identifying letters are more likely to develop reading impairments, but such difficulties can’t be uncovered until the child is three to five-years-old.
The researchers investigated whether assessing language ability even earlier, by measuring speech complexity in infancy, might predict later difficulties.
They tracked nine babies from English-speaking American families between the ages of nine and 30 months.
Each baby’s babble was recorded as they interacted with their primary caregiver.
The researchers looked specifically at the consonant-vowel (CV) ratio, a proven measure of speech complexity.
They then met each child again when they were six years old to examine their ability to identify letters, a known predictor of later reading impairment.
The team discovered that those with more complex babble as babies performed better when identifying specific letters in their later reading test.
Though the sample size was relatively small and all nine children developed normally – meaning the range of variability was restricted, the researchers said that their findings may indicate a link between early speech production and literacy skill.
They suggest that in future, the complexity of baby babble may be useful as an earlier predictor of reading impairments in children than letter identification tests, enabling parents and professionals to earlier identify and treat children at risk of reading difficulties.
Study author Dr Kelly Farquharson, of Florida State University, said: “This paper provides exciting data to support an early and robust connection between speech production and later literacy skills.
“There is clinical utility in this work – we are moving closer to establishing behavioural measures that may help us identify reading disabilities sooner.”