Again, likely true...but back it up!

Dan gave our last update in our ongoing series: Articles Dispensing Common-Sense Parenting Tips Purportedly Based in Scientific Fact, But Wherein the Author Draws Conclusions Unwarranted By the Cited Empirical Evidence. I do prefer this series to the Perform This Non-Common-Sensical Activity Repeatedly In Order To Avoid Cognitively Less Developed Kids, Also Purportedly Based in Scientific Fact But Not Backed Up by Empirical Evidence (see: Baby Einstein DVDs and the stroller wars).

Today, we have Jane Brody urging parents to talk to babies. Seems reasonable enough. But she does not cite one study that suggests that this is useful. The sum total of her evidence is that the AMA, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and a "speech and language specialist in New York" (who herself cited no data) urge such contact. Other evidence offered by Brody:

"All too often, the mothers and nannies I see are tuned in to their cellphones, BlackBerrys and iPods, not their young children."


"And you can’t introduce books too early. I remember my niece at 3 months paying rapt attention as her mother “read” picture books to her, pointing out objects, their colors and what the characters were doing."


"One, a former Spanish teacher, speaks to her three little boys only in Spanish; her husband and almost everyone else in their lives speak to them in English. The oldest, now 3, is fluently bilingual and readily translates into English what has been said to him in Spanish. If I ask him something in Spanish, he responds to me in English (he quickly recognized my limits with Spanish) and even corrects my mispronunciations of Spanish words.

So much for the notion that learning two languages simultaneously delays a child’s language development."

Well. I'm glad your sample size was big enough to draw that conclusion.

The thing is, I'm sure there are data on this. Meanwhile, please avoid the hectoring (the rest of the article is a lguilt-inducing laundry lists of shoulds and shouldn'ts for parents) and please stop speaking in tones of scientific authority when you have established none, and are just basing this in your own observations of a couple of kids you know and your neighbors. What a lazy, naggy article!

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