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Is 'baby talk' bad for your child's development?

July 25th, 2021
Chrissie
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Is 'baby talk' bad for your child's development?
Baby talk is definitely another of those controversial topics with supporters in both camps! Parents are often reprimanded by grandparents, friends or even people in the street for talking ‘baby talk’ to their baby or toddler when they should be speaking to their child normally, using the proper words and phrases otherwise it will have a detrimental effect on the child’s speech development. Is baby talk really that bad for your child’s development?

A major study was undertaken a few years ago when the effects of baby talk were evaluated on more than 2,200 infants in 16 different countries around the world and researchers found the exact opposite! Babies and toddlers everywhere really enjoy baby talk and it can positively help their language development. Baby talk has always been particularly popular in the United States, but in many European countries it is still considered embarrassing!
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Why do babies like ‘baby talk’?

The correct term for ‘baby talk’ is ‘infant directed speech’ and young children really enjoy this type of speech for several reasons-

The speech is always directed at to them

Baby talk is usually in shorter, softer and more melodic phrases with easier words.

when talking baby talk, parents are usually more animated which children love!

Often a question is asked so your child feels good because they are the centre of your attention

Emotions are more easily conveyed in baby talk so your child will find this more interesting.

What if you have never tried baby talk?

Relax! There is certainly no right or wrong way to it! Baby talk is great for bonding as it gets your baby’s attention. You will find yourself automatically talking in a more melodic way and you will probably find that you are naturally emphasising the key word in each phrase- which is perfect. An example of this is ‘where is your baaall?’

Baby talk in simple phrases will help your child’s speech development because they can hear your pronounce the vowels and consonants more clearly – something that rarely happens when two adults are talking quickly! Your child will be like a sponge, absorbing words and phrases and very soon you will be able to identify words amongst all the babble which a really special moment!

When using baby talk, it is best to use simple words and phrases but not sprinkle these with fake words. Fake words usually end in a ‘y’ and examples including ‘shoesy’, ‘sippy’, ‘dancesy’ and serve no real value, better just to say the word correctly. Interestingly, researchers also found that mums and female carers of children find it easier to engage in baby talk, but having said that, young children are equally enchanted when their father or other male talks baby talk with them!
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The most important tips for when you are enjoying some baby talk with your baby or toddler are-

Try and be on your own with your child as it is easier to enjoy a ‘conversation’ together.

Always look in your child’s eyes as you talk to them

When your child responds to your question, always give him your full attention – you may be surprised by what he has to say!

Enjoy chatting with your child as often as you can because you will be giving them a very special gift- great conversational and stronger language skills that will benefit them all life long.

Chrissie x

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