There are three ways to use the new PKR:

  1. Browse and click on color-coded boxes that appear as if by magic as you scroll down.
  2. Click on a category for all the ParenTips under that particular category.
  3. Go to the Site Map (link) for an:
    • a) alphabetical list of all ParenTips.
    • b) A list of all 8 categories with every ParenTip in that category listed alphabetically.

Or mix and match! Have fun as you get the information you need!

close directions


Language is our birthright. We are the only mammals that talk and we are born with a “language instinct” that enables early acquisition of speech. And continued acquisition of speech. From birth to adulthood children acquire 60,000 words which averages 8 to 10 new words a day.

Babies learn to speak the language their parents speak. Duh! But this obvious point lets me make my point: babies NEED their parents and care givers to talk to them and talk to them a lot in order for the young child develop language in a timely manner.


Running commentary (“I am going to use the wipe and then the lotion and then put on the diaper.”)


Little rhyming poems you make up (“I love Baby Boo! I love Baby You!”)

Nursery poems like “Jack and Jill”

Counting games

The alphabet poem and song

Reading picture books with much enthusiasm

Parental Babytalk should, be animated, excited, exaggerated, sometimes sing-song, sometimes loud and sometimes whispered. There should be variation in speed with some exaggerated slowing, pauses, and fast bursts. If each parent and caregiver does this Baby also gets the benefit of hearing the slight variations in speech that differentiates people so you can identify your Mom on the phone the minute she says hello.

There is recent evidence that babies who use gestures to convey word meanings at age 14 months have larger vocabularies at 54 months. This is important because vocabulary is a predictor of school success. Children with lower vocabulary skills are at higher risk of school failure than those with better vocabulary skills.

The study was done in Chicago by two psychologists, Meredith Rowe and Susan Goldin-Meadow who videotaped 14-month-old babies playing with their primary caregiver for 90 minutes. Babies from high-income, well-educated families used gestures that conveyed an average of 24 different meanings during the taping session while children from lower income families conveyed only 13 meanings. Once in school the children who displayed the most gestures scored 26% higher in vocabulary comprehension than the low-gesture group.

We have known for a long time that babies from families with higher socioeconomic status (SES) have better language skills when they enter school than children from families with lower SES. We also know that higher educated parents not only talk more to their babies more but also use more complex sentences. At 14 months babies are saying few words so the researchers found little difference between babies of low and high SES.. But they did see a significant difference in gesturing. No one knows the role that gesturing plays in language acquisition but Rowe and Goldin-Meadow wrote, “…it is clear that gesturing partly accounts for the relation between SES and later vocabulary skill.”

There is also some recent research on stroller talk. A study of how 2700 families interacted with babies while pushing them in strollers revealed that adults are less likely to talk (and pointing would likely be useless) to babies in forward-facing strollers. Grandparents remember when all baby carriages were rear-facing so the baby and parents could look at each other and interact. The invention of a very convenient baby item…the collapsible stroller..changed that.

Although more research needs to be done, It’s easy and fun for parents and caregivers of babies to add gesturing to their repertoire of Parental Babytalk.