Talking to babies helps their brains develop, researchers have discovered. Who'd have thought it?
The study by Northwestern University in Ilinois found that words influence the thinking of three-month-old babies better than any other kinds of sounds, including music.
So if you're babbling away to your tiny baby, don't feel silly - you're helping his development.
The study found that babies who heard words were able to categorise them.
Researchers showed around 50 three-month-old babies some pictures of fish and paired them with either words or beeps.
Then they were shown a picture of another fish and a dinosaur side by side and the researchers measured how long they looked at each picture.
If the babies recognised what category the pictures were in, they would look longer at one picture than the other.
Dr Susan Hespos, associate professor of psychology at the university and one of the authors of the study, told the Telegraph that the results were "striking".
She said: "We found that although infants who heard in the word and tone groups saw exactly the same pictures for exactly the same amount of time, those who heard words formed the category fish and those who heard tones did not.
"For infants as young as three months of age, words exert a special influence that supports the ability to form a category and these findings offer the earliest evidence to date for a link between words and object categories."
Co-author Professor Sandra Waxman, also from the psychology department, told the Telegraph: "We suspect that human speech, and perhaps especially infant-directed speech, engenders in young infants a kind of attention to the surrounding objects that promotes categorisation.
"We proposed that over time, this general attentional effect would become more refined, as infants begin to cull individual words from fluent speech, to distinguish among individual words and kinds of words, and to map those words to meaning."
The research is being published in the April edition of the journal Child Development.
Sounds pretty obvious, doesn't it? Talking to babies is good for them. Get babbling!
Source: The Telegraph