As an adult, you might get a tad annoyed at your mother when she repeats things to you over and over and over and over, but her repetitiveness once upon a time (when you were a wee 7-month-old) may have benefited you in ways that still helps you today.

A new study published in the Journal of Child Language by researchers at the University of Maryland and Harvard University discovered that when parents verbally repeated words to their 7-month-old infants, the children demonstrated stronger language skills at age 2 than those whose parents did not repeat as many words. Researchers conducted the study by measuring the infants’ language-comprehension abilities at the beginning of the study, then again at age 2.  They found the kids of repetitive parents were able to process and understand language better, and had larger vocabularies to boot.

Prior to this study, studies have focused on the overall word count; as in, the more your baby hears overall, the better. For example, a 2014 study published in Pediatrics found that the more words preterm babies heard from adults, the higher their cognitive and language scores were at 18 months.

Parents are still encouraged to speak to their babies as much as possible, but this new study now underscores that importance of how to talk to an infant, as opposed to simply increasing the quantity of “conversations.” It seems like this little tweak can make a huge difference to a child’s mind, and the best part is you can implement it immediately.



  1. Journal of Child Language
  2. Pediatrics