Being The Parent

‘Baby Talking’ Or ‘Parentese’ – What’s Your Pick?

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Mother and baby
It’s quite common to watch people cuddling babies in their arms and making all sorts of funny noises which is rewarded with the baby’s laughter and squeals. Because of this response, it is assumed that this the perfect way of addressing the baby. And then we go on and complain that our child misspells words. He calls ‘car’ as ‘tar’, ‘shoe’ as ‘foo’ or ‘dance’ as ‘danshi’ and you exasperatedly wait for him to say these words properly. It might sound cute for a short while, but no one wants their child to continue baby talking for so long!

What Exactly Is Baby Talk?

Baby talking denotes making nonsensical sounds and words which absolutely have no meaning. Often, parents talk to a baby using made up words which have no meaning. The act of speaking such words to the baby is called baby talking. However no one is to be blamed for this bizarre, sort of natural language. It comes spontaneously when you see you little cuddly baby waving his hands excitedly at you! Babies are more sensitive to changes in sound pitch and love sing-song notes. But new research has taken the baby talk to altogether new level. Some say, baby talking does more harm than good!

How Do Made-Up Words Baby Talking Affect The Baby?

Baby talk does not has a definite sentence structure or even proper words. Babies like to see your face when you talk, and respond to high and changing pitches, but if you continue to baby talk, chances are that the baby will pick up these words faster. You are damaging the linguistic base of your child!

  • Delayed Speech And Language Development: Even though you may not agree that your baby recognizes words and can understand words and sentences in his tiny form, the fact is he does! As he grows up listening the words such as ‘dog’, ‘mom’, ‘baby’ etc. he will catch them soon and even start imitating them. Your baby may start babbling till he is seven months or so, if you provide a conducive environment, your baby’s speech development will expedite
  • Rendering Word Comprehension Difficult: Sooner or later your baby would start speaking, however the quality of language learned is sub-optimal. If you have always found your baby ‘wuvly’ it would be difficult for him to identify later that he appears ‘lovely’! You unknowingly confuse your child and with conditioning it might take him really long to pronounce such words correctly
  • Limited Vocabulary: If your conversation with the baby lacks variety of words, adjectives and meaning, your baby is missing out on his development potential. Prof. Erika Hoff of Florida Atlantic University particularly mentions ” parents should not restrict their conversations to simplistic baby talk. Rich and complex language, with adjectives and subordinate clauses, helped them to learn the complex structure of language”

Mother and baby talking

Try Parentese!

Parentese is speaking the words and sentences as they ought to be, but stressing on the vowels. However, in a tone which is catchy for babies! With babies, it could be speaking short sentences in a sing-song manner or with tones of varied amplitudes. This is what attracts a baby. Practically, this means probably opening your eyes wide and acting out the word “biiiiiiiiiiiiggg” rather than ‘biggie wiggie’ hug! It facilitates the understanding for your baby.

Parentese Tips

Parentese may actually have an emotionally-charging affect on your baby. With time, they are able to discriminate between different sounds and even identify sentence structure. Below are a few tips to get you going:

  • Treat your baby as a mini-adult, who can understand and response to your talk. Reply to his gurgles and babbles. Your baby can sense that he is being listened to and answered. Key is to use a multitude of words with varied tones!
  • The first two years of life are very critical for brain development of the baby. It’s up to you to provide apt stimulation to render a healthy language development
  • Maybe keep sentence shorter and in a sing-song tone with varied emphasis? Your baby learns from the rhymes and rhythms, so even if you feel this is of relevance, it certainly is!
  • Incorporate this reading style while you recite stories and while acting out activities such as bathing or changing diaper

Father and baby talking
This is the age of smart kids who roll out of their mother’s womb and jump straight to poking fingers on tablets. You need to become smarter and help them catch up with the every dynamic world. So keep talking to your little darling and yes, he is intelligent enough to understand you!





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