Parentese and baby talk


How you talk to your baby has an impact. Research has shown that babies prefer you to talk to them using regular words (normal adult vocabulary) in a slightly higher pitched and more sing-song way. Although many adults do this naturally when talking to babies it has become known as 'Parentese' and is very different from 'Baby Talk'.

● Slower speech pace

● Articulate clearly, well-formed, elongated vowel sounds and clearly voiced consonants, so 'hello' becomes 'heellooo'

● Use shorter sentences that are grammatically correct

● Vary and raise pitch of voice (as much as an octave)

● Stress words by pitch, intensity and length so 'sweet baby' becomes 'sweeet baybeee'

● Use exaggerated facial expressions (eye contact, raised eyebrows, big smiles)

● Frequently use repetition

● Leave a gap/pause between sentences so that your child can coo and babble back (developing the turn taking structure of conversation)

● Talk face to face so that they can clearly see how your lips move and other facial expressions (this about 20 cm or 8 inches for a new born)

● Try using your child's name first then the important word in the sentence and follow with the complete sentence; for example, "Jo, bottle, here is your bottle!"  Research suggests that at about 3- 4 months old a baby will turn their head when their name is called and that they will then focus on the next word that follows their name.

Baby talk

‘Baby Talk’ is where we replace regular words with nonsense or over simplified words; so "who is the cutest baby in the world!" becomes "oo es da  cutsie wootsiest beebee in da wold!".  This does not help a child to develop the language skills they need to communicate effectively with others and can delay some children's speech and language development.  What you may think sounds cute and adorable may actually hold your child back because others just cannot understand them, which can be very frustrating for your child.