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Study Finds Infants Respond More to Reading than Play

For those caregivers who sit and read to their infants, new science is suggesting listening can be just as important as reading.

According to a new study from the University of Iowa, interaction, not just the sound of the words being read, is the key to language development during reading.

All those little babbles and squeals babies make could be the infant's attempt at forming language.

The study looked at how mothers responded to their 12-month-olds during book reading, puppet play and toy play. Researchers found that the babies made more speech-like sounds during reading than during puppet or toy play. They also discovered mothers were more responsive to the noises their children made during reading, than other activities.

"A lot of research shows that book reading even to infants as young as six months of age is important to language outcomes, but I'm trying to explain why by looking at the specifics, which could be responding to speech-like sounds," said Julie Gros-Louis, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Iowa.

Gros-Louis has conducted other studies of mothers responding to the babbling of their infants. She says for this study in particular, she used mothers and their babies because their interactions have been studied more than fathers and their children.

The study looks to gain a better understanding of what specifically occurs when a caregiver and a child read together, so that those interactions can then later be linked to language

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