Talking with Your Toddler Could Boost IQ Scores and Language Skills Later

And it’s simpler than you might think.

Photo Credit: magical_light/Getty Images

By Allison Cooper

When our kiddos are little and just learning to talk, we become so focused on enunciation and vocabulary and what words they are adding to theirs. It’s a really exciting time for both parent and child. A new study is showing that there are even more benefits than we ever thought of before whenever it comes to speaking with your toddler, and we’re over here pretty excited to find that we’re killing two birds with one stone. Praise!

Yes, it’s time to feel really proud of all that effort we’re putting into speech development because these early conversations have been directly linked to better language skills and higher IQ scores later on in life, according to a new study in the Journal of Pediatrics.

How did these findings come about? The research team looked at children 18-months-old to two-years-old and recorded the words they heard from adults, as well as their adult-child conversations. This happened once a month over a period of six months. Researchers then brought the children back for language and cognitive testing when they were nine to 14-years-old.

They found that the children who had more opportunity to speak during these conversations or speaking “turns” had an average of 14 to 27 percent higher performance on IQ tests, verbal comprehension, and receptive and expressive vocabulary scores, according to the study, which controlled for socioeconomic factors. The quantity and the quality of the conversation both played a role in these outcomes, too.

There have been additional studies that prove similar findings, showing that the back and forth conversations held between parent and toddler result in stronger connections between the brain regions that are responsible for comprehension and production of speech, and also scored higher on verbal skills tests. It makes complete sense: If we get them communicating and critically thinking at a young age, these skills will be built upon and encouraged as they grow.

So the next time your toddler sits down next to you and starts talking your ears off, instead of getting quickly flustered, just think of all the major benefits those early conversations will have to their development. And if you think about it, these conversations might even lead to college scholarships later on. A little bit of time spent now could save lots of dough later!

Originally published at

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