How Infant Directed Speech Shapes Your Child’s Development

How Infant Directed Speech Shapes Your Child’s Development

Summary: Babytalk not only provides a baby with comfort and encouragement, it can also help facilitate early language development, a new study reports.

Source: Western Sydney University.

The way you speak to your baby can tell a very specific story.

Through the subconscious mechanism of babytalk, a parent’s voice can offer encouragement, discipline or comfort, and according to new research findings, it can even facilitate early language development in infants.

A research paper published by the MARCS Institute (opens in new window)Opens in a new window at Western Sydney University shows that mothers unconsciously shorten their vocal tract when speaking to their babies, creating a higher pitch that is thought to have evolved from pre-speech, primate ancestors to provide comfort and appear less threatening to offspring.

Research leader Dr Marina Kalashnikova suggests that it was only once human language emerged, that babytalk, formally referred to as Infant Directed Speech (IDS), acquired a second purpose – to facilitate language learning in infants.

“Infant Directed Speech is actually a powerful tool that parents instinctively use to aid language development in their infant’s first months and years of life,” says Dr Kalashnikova.

“Shortening of the vocal tract is not unique to humans – it is an adjustment that several species make to appear smaller and less threatening.

“But specifically for humans, by shortening their vocal tract, mothers produce clearer speech sounds (especially vowel sounds like ee, oo, and ah).

“Mothers’ speech also sounds more similar to an infants’ own vocalization and this has been proposed to drive their preference for IDS; further, infants prefer to listen to speech that is similar to the sounds that they produce.”

Image shows a mom and baby.

In comparison to adult-directed speech, Dr Kalashnikova said IDS had simpler grammar; more varied pitch, longer pauses, greater emotion and inflection, as well as distinguishable speech sounds and exaggerated facial expressions.

This research, conducted by Dr Marina Kalashnikova, Dr Chris Carignan and Professor Denis Burnham from the MARCS BabyLab, is the first study of its kind to not only measure the sound qualities of the speech that mothers produce when speaking to their infants, but also measured the movements that they make when producing speech (the movements of their lips and tongue).

Some cancers die or regresses

By Momna Hejmadi, University Of Bath, The Conversation

It is hard to believe that some cancers miraculously disappear, but it does happen. Over 1,000 case studies document cancer sufferers who experienced spontaneous regression of their tumour. So why does this happen and is it possible to exploit it to benefit cancer patients?

The earliest documented case of spontaneous regression was in the late 13th century. A bone sarcoma in Peregrine Laziosi spontaneously disappeared after a severe bacterial infection. In the late 1800s, William Coley observed that inducing a fever could result in tumour regression. He developed a bacterial vaccine (“Coley’s vaccine”) that was successful in reducing tumours in many of his patients.

Tumours have been known to disappear spontaneously, in the absence of any targeted treatment, usually after an infection (bacterial, viral, fungal or even protozoal). Could this mean that simply stimulating the immune system causes regression?

Not that simple

Over the past 70 years, spontaneous regression has been reported in a variety of cancer types, but particularly in melanomas (skin), renal cell carcinomas (kidney), neuroblastomas (adrenal glands) and some types of blood cancers. However, despite these historical observations of tumour regression, we still do not know the mechanisms that cause this phenomenon. It is also very difficult to quantify, and many cases are probably unreported in research journals.

One likely reason for spontaneous regression is that the body triggers an immune response against specific antigens displayed on the surface of tumour cells. Support for this idea comes from the observation that some skin tumours (malignant melanoma) show excessively high numbers of the body’s immune cells inside the tumour.

In another interesting case report, a patient with kidney cancer had a part of his tumour surgically removed, which resulted in the spontaneous regression of the rest of his tumour. The rationale underlying this phenomenon is that a local immune response following surgery was enough to stop growth of the rest of the tumour.

But tumours are notoriously varied, both in their genetics and their behaviour, which can result in relentless disease progression in some people, but cause spontaneous regression in others. Tumours of the same type (such as breast cancer) can mutate in many different ways. This can influence the rate of tumour growth, or the likelihood of spread to different locations, or how responsive they are to treatment. It is highly probable that genetic mutations are also responsible for spontaneous regression.

A rare childhood cancer gives some clues

Neuroblastoma is a type of rare childhood cancer that could shed some light on how genetic changes may affect spontaneous regression. About 100 children are diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK, but the disease progresses very differently depending on the child’s age. Tumours in children under 18 months can disappear with or without any treatment (type 1). But children older than 18 months need intensive treatment and have only a 40-50% survival rate (type 2).

Research shows that type 1 neuroblastomas have distinctive genetics compared to type 2. For instance, these tumours typically have high numbers of a cell receptor (TrkA) which can trigger tumour cells to kill themselves. In contrast, type 2 neuroblastomas have a higher number of a different receptor (TrKB), which makes these tumours more aggressive.

Another possible explanation is that type 1 neuroblastomas show very low levels of activity of an enzyme, telomerase, compared with type 2 tumours. Telomerase controls the length of specialised pieces of DNA which enables the cell to divide continually. In type 1 neuroblastomas, these are very short and unstable due to low activity of the enzyme, and this triggers cell death.

Epigenetic changes cannot be excluded either. Epigenetic changes do not affect the DNA sequence of a cell but modify the activity of various proteins by “tagging” different parts of the DNA. So cells with the same DNA sequence, but with different tags may behave completely differently and result in some tumours destroying themselves. Recent studies showed significant differences in tagged genes in type 1 neuroblastomas compared to type 2, although these are preliminary findings.

Although the precise mechanisms underlying spontaneous regression are still uncertain, it is very likely that stimulating a strong immune response must play a big part in people with certain genetic profiles. Further research exploring this link between genetics and stimulating an immune response would provide answers to how we can identify tumours that have the capacity to spontaneously regress.


Free childbirth, mother care and baby care ebook by Connie Dello Buono

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When Birthing Ways Healing Ways came out at amazon , sold my ebook to Amazon and so I did not get a penny. I was new to publishing and I love writing about my childbirth experience with Nurse Midwives in the bay area so I write for it is my passion.

So now, I am giving away my ebook in the hopes of getting referrals to my life insurance and annuities brokerage business.

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The above link contains my ebook, email me at for your feedback.

Also, I am giving childbirth classes to couples, 3-5 couples at a time in my San Jose place, Monday – Sunday from 8am to 8pm, 2-hr session at a time (3-5 couples). Contact 408-854-1883. The two-hour childbirth class will be everything you need to know and extra service after the baby is born. A pledge in the amount you are comfortable with based on the service I provide would be appropriate.

Once I massaged a pregnant woman while I provide childbirth tips to her. She followed my advice of walking one mile a day and other tips. Two weeks later she had her baby and only spent two hours in labor in the hospital. All natural birth happened so bonding with mother and baby went well.

There are many benefits to the services I provide aside from knowing mother and baby massage, breastfeeding and all the questions you wanted to be answered about mother and baby. I apprenticed with midwives in the bay area and also took some midwifery lessons from Oregon School of Midwifery.

During the three years that I was a full time mother to care for my two toddlers, I read medical, nursing and midwifery books which led me to my contract job as pharmacy technician instructor.

Since then, I gave advice and help to pregnant mothers. The book by Dr Sears, Baby Book, helped new fathers and mothers understand more about babies and it helped me too.

Happy birthing so they say. I also pray to parents who lost their babies via environmental toxins, miscarriage, forces of nature but seldom through childbirth in this century. May God and  their community give them lots of love.

The Newborn after Birth





Newborns feel, remember and are influenced by their experiences. During the first few weeks of life, they need mother’s milk (if possible), warmth and sleep. When travelling, mothers before us have worn a sling to carry baby around in which rocks the newborn to sleep. Sleeping with their mothers helps newborn babies to regulate their breathing. I have practiced sleeping together with my children from the time they were born.

Most mothers observed that full term and healthy babies have less colic problems especially when they are breastfed and massaged before or after each bath. Nelson Textbook on Pediatrics stated that crying from intestinal discomfort and intestinal obstruction or peritoneal infection may mimic an attack of colic and the following preventive measures can be sought: improving feeding techniques, including burping, providing a stable environment, identifying possible allergenic foods and avoiding underfeeding or overfeeding.
A study on the abilities of newborns tells us that:

  •  After about an hour and a half, infants began to make crawling movements toward their mother’s breast.
  • At an average of fifty minutes after birth most were sucking correctly (they open their mouth wide, with the tongue under the areola, and express milk from the breast with deep sucks). This happens in a setting where the room is darkened, loud noises are avoided and people speak in low voices.
  • Infants separated from their mothers at twenty minutes generally cried out loudly in protest.
  • The first hour of contact of the mother with her baby skin-to-skin on her abdomen provides time to know each other.
  • Mother tends to fall in love with the baby sooner when the baby is kept with her immediately after birth.
  • They can recognize their own infants from others by merely touching the backs of the babies’ hands or by smelling their clothing.
  • The mother can feel herself into the infant’s place.
  •  There are still many things that we don’t know about newborns including the essential nutrients that they derive from mother’s milk. That is why we continually modify the formulation in the so called Baby Formula.
  • Touch, love, constant care and happy parents are what newborn wants….
  • The midwife catches the baby and promotes a calm birth experience for the baby. Experiences inside the womb and at birth influence the shaping of human personality. Impact of roots of violence can take hold in prenatal life.
  • Infant trauma inside the womb can influence the future of the newborn.

When the new baby needs to be seen by a doctor

The American College of Nurse Midwives has the following instructions to parents of new babies about when to call their caregiver (midwife or doctor). Parents are the first to observe their babies and should call their midwife or doctor when they see any of the danger signals below:
1. Dehydration – fewer and fewer wet diapers, dry inside of mouth (put little finger in baby’s mouth and let it suck – should feel wet and slippery, not dry and sticky). Be especially alert if the weather is hot, the baby has diarrhea, is not nursing well or acts sick.
2. Won’t eat – disinterested in nursing, too weak or sleepy to suck, few wet diapers, several days without stool. Seek out breastfeeding advice.
3. Abnormal skin color/Jaundice – if the baby becomes increasingly yellow/orange (especially the hands and feet), becomes too sleepy to nurse, wets few diapers (3 or less a day), has no stools. Cyanosis (bluish color) or very pale skin color. Both are very dangerous signs, often accompanied by respiratory distress (working hard to breathe). Go immediately to a hospital, a doctor or call 911.
4. Change in consciousness – very fussy, high-pitched-cry, a weak cry, or acts like he or she has a stiff neck, has poor color (very pale or bluish), is hard to wake up or has a fever. However, little babies can be very sick and still not have an elevated temperature. These serious problems may be caused by a dangerous infection, bleeding in the brain, or heart and lung problems that keep the baby from getting enough oxygen.
5. Bleeding, bruising, blood-filled lumps under the skin, bloody diarrhea or urine; except for a few drops of watery-blood from the umbilical stump when it is failing off or in the baby’s diaper, babies shouldn’t bleed or bruise. Be especially concerned if the baby is exclusively breast-fed or did not receive Vitamin K at birth. Seek medical help and be sure to tell the doctor if the baby did not receive Vitamin K. Expect a blood test (PPT) to help diagnose a deficiency in blood clotting factors.


written by  Connie Dello Buono
author of Birthing Ways Healing Ways
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Infant Massage

Infant Massage

Touch and massage are simple forms of communication.

The baby’s skin is more sensitive than that of an adult. Massage lightly with the surface of your fingers and palm. Start from the hands and feet.

Use calendula oil or another natural, light oil such as Almond or Arnica oil. This oil can be used as postnatal care:
• loosen and relaxes the new baby

• gently removes the cradle cap on baby’s head

• protects baby’s delicate skin

Other aromatherapy oil for postnatal care can consist of St John’s Wort, Arnica, Calendula oil, Betula, Vitamin E and pure essential oils of Chamomile, Lavender, Rosemary, sweet Almond, and oil of argan, coconut,apricot and Olive.

A parent’s loving touch helps grow each cell in the baby’s body.