Why Your Messy Baby May Be Smarter

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Feeding time with baby can be really messy, but researchers are now saying that might be a good thing. A study from the University of Iowa found that 16-month-old babies learn words better when they’re getting peas and carrots all over the high chair (and themselves).

Past research has found that toddlers have an easier time learning words for solid objects because it’s easy for them to identify their unchanging shapes. However, it’s harder for little ones trying to learn words for smushy things. But if kids can actually play with those squishy things, they learn those words. According to Professor Larissa Samuelson, kids are “used to seeing nonsolid things in this context, when they’re eating. And, if you expose them to these things when they’re in a highchair, they do better. They’re familiar with the setting and that helps them remember and use what they already know about nonsolids.”

So make the most out of mealtimes. Let your kids get their hands dirty, even if that means you have to wear a bib, too. It’s primetime for learning. As you scoop food into baby’s little mouth, try telling them what they’re eating. It might make a big difference when it comes to language development.

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