Baby Einstein Doesn’t Help: How My Toddler Got a Bigger Vocabulary Than Me

by doodaddy on August 5, 2007

We’re in the midst of that weird language explosion that happens to early toddlers. It’s fun, but at the same time a little annoying.

For months, I’ve been pointing out “blue,” “red,” and “yellow” tiles at the playground. Months, and I got nothing.

“Where’s the blue tile, sweetie?” I’ll ask, and in answer Boobaby scoops up a load of dirt and sprinkles it into her hair. Maybe she thinks “blue” means “bath day.”

Anyway, then the babysitter takes her out once and she comes home pointing out thing that are… get this: Purple. “Puh-pul! Puh-pul! Puh-pul!” she’ll insist, while I look on, dumbfounded.

Purple? I never did purple. She still doesn’t know blue or red, but she can pick out and say purple after two hours with a teenager!?

“PUH! PUL!” she shouts to make sure I get the idea.

I felt like such a chump. Until today, that is, when I ran into this article in Scientific American, which let me off the hook with this:

“[Cognitive scientist Bob] McMurray of the University of Iowa found that toddlers inevitably experienced an explosion in word learning after a set period of time, no matter what.”

“No matter what!” Toddlers’ language acquisition is purely mathematical: there’s an explosion of language because of the way their cute little brains collect information. Just keep talking and the words collect in little clumps, and the bigger the clumps get, the more gravity they have to collect more words, so the process gets faster the longer it goes.

Even better, as far as I’m concerned, is that the only thing that will help her get more words is if we use more words. Educational toys and videos can help but not much, because even if they introduce “big words,” they’ll inevitably repeat them over and over.
Baby needs variety! Baby needs challenge! Baby needs me to start reading her some Harry Potter books!

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in goals,language ·

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

aimee/greeblemonkey August 6, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Hell yeah. If I didn’t think I had some part of this magical creature I am raising, I would go screaming into the night.


Ann Marie August 6, 2007 at 6:32 pm

Ohhh new words are always fun! Wait until she starts saying the words you don’t want her to say.. and oh by the way.. she will even if you never ever ever say them in front of her.

thanks for the belated birthday!!!


dana August 8, 2007 at 9:31 am

great post. I totally agree. and this morning on the
Today Show they had a special on the baby einstein videos. very interesting. my daughter just babbles and now is coming out with a new word everyday!!


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