Baby talk: is it good or not?

Everyone does it!

One thing is certain: no one can avoid it. Even those who think they will never use baby talk do it. If this little being who just made it here influences everyone, it is because of a strange phenomenon. To start off on the right foot in your exchanges with your child, I will give you a few tips that will help you observe what baby talk is made of. You can try to observe or talk to members of your family. Then I will tell you about the aspects that are good for your baby and those who will have a negative impact on the development of his language and communication skills.

What is talking?

Talking is putting words together to build sentences. We transmit these words through speech. Speech is made of our voice, of tones (high and low pitch), of strength (volume) and intonations. We talk to communicate with others. We want to share our thoughts, be understood and make others react. The pleasure obtained through communication is when the exchange fulfills both participants.

How can we define baby talk?

Baby talk and talking like a baby are not exactly the same thing. It is important to make the difference because the final result on your baby’s development is not the same. Several researchers have studied baby talk and managed to focus on the differences between the language used with a baby and the one we use with an adult. We will see them eventually. However, talking like a baby is something else and without being defined in exact words, we could say that it concerns the vocabulary and consists in imitating the baby.

Baby talk: what helps?

Every day, researchers study the development of language and communication and some teams try to precise the role of the adult. We think that we can talk to a baby from birth and maybe even before that. It is more and more recommended to talk to your baby through your belly you’re your seventh month of pregnancy so that he becomes used to the human voice. After birth, your child will be more inclined to listen to familiar voices and pay attention to them.

In addition to the moment when we should talk to our baby, researchers have examined several characteristics to explain why it is useful to talk like that. They realized that we do it for intuitive reasons: talking to a baby and talking to an adult are not the same thing.

Thus, if we change the way that we talk, we get impression that children tend to listen to us and give us more attention, we are at their height and they feel understood and all that is beneficial.

Here is what we do when we use baby talk:

  • Modify our voice to make it higher, change our intonation until we get our baby’s attention.
  • Use mimics and smiles.
  • Speak slower and clearly separate words from one another. It seems that talking fast would not help learning the proper pronunciation of words and their understanding.
  • Use a simple vocabulary and short sentences. There would be no point in building long sentences for a baby with a short attention span.

Because normally most adults spontaneously do it, you do not have to learn baby talk. We all practiced without knowing as it has been proven that we also use this language with our spouse in some circumstances and also with our pets.

Baby talk: what has a negative impact on a baby's development?

The characteristics mentioned for baby talk and that are naturally used allow adapting to the baby when he is small. As he grows up, he needs language examples that are more refined to develop his sounds, his vocabulary and his sentences. To support the development of his vocabulary, we must speak as normally as possible to our child from birth if we want to make it a habit. It is better to say “look at the train” than “look at the tchoo-tchoo” Chopping words and making words up based on the sound that they make is useless for a child.

Following your baby’s evolution

As mentioned before, in our first exchanges with our baby, we instinctively feel the need to transform the way we speak to him and it helps him. When he begins to produce words, he cannot produce every sound nor say every syllable. He does what we perceive as mistakes.

For example, instead of giraffe, he can say “yaya”. As an adult, it is tempting to say yaya too and speak like him to make him understand more easily but that is when we should be careful. How will he be able to know the real word, use it, remember it and learn it? And how will he be understood by other people who do not know what yaya means? Our role is to show him the right way. In that sense, it is much better to repeat the word properly more than once in the same sentence. For example, you could say “This is a nice giraffe, you can place your giraffe in the drawer and we will grab the giraffe again later on.” Repeating will help him memorize and eventually pronounce the word like you.

For tips and information or to find more ways to communicate with your child, consult The Hanen Centre.

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