Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


Who's a Little Bitty Artist? Yes, You Are!

Engaging in baby talk can nurture your child's creativity.

By Jocelyn SelimMay 29, 2004 5:00 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

No need to switch on the Mozart. Simply engaging in baby talk might be the best way to raise an artistic child, say University of Alberta English professor David Miall and his colleague Ellen Dissanayake. Miall developed a computer program that analyzes structural, metrical, and phonetic variations in literary works. On a whim, he fed a tape of a mother speaking to her infant into the machine and was floored by the result. “Baby talk is incredibly systematic and rhythmical—the patterns are exaggerated examples of those in poetry, song lyrics, and great literature,” he says. Miall suggests that infants in the first weeks of life already respond to the inflections of baby talk, which helps a mother focus her child’s attention and communicate emotional states. Baby talk then provides an unconscious aesthetic template after children have mastered verbal communication. “It could well be the reason we have emotional responses to temporal art, such as literature and music,” Miall says. If so, poetry and art may be interpreted as forms of social bonding that linger long after the initial mother-infant attachment is outgrown.

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In