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How Baby Talk Can Affect Speech Development

baby talk

Talking to toddlers makes it easier for them to learn language and enables them to expand their vocabulary. For those of us who love entertaining kids, it is impossible not to break into baby talk. It is too cute, adorable and amusing not to do it. This emotional language will definitely get the baby’s attention making it possible to distract them from a tantrum.

Moreover, it makes communication easy and fun. Children love it. They in particular like the faces you make when you talk. Additionally, parents get to build a special bond with the kids though baby talk. However, have you ever stopped t think if this talk has any negative effects on your child’s ability to learn language?

Well, baby talk is more of gibberish rather than real words. Mother-ese on the other hand, is supposed to be somewhat musical. It should make sense rather than babbling nonsense to the baby.


From baby talk to mother-ese

Compared to normal language, mother-ese or parent-ese is a bit slower. It emphasizes on particular words and uses simple sounds. The tone changes and it either goes up or down. The sentences are short and easy too. The speech usually involves a lot of repetition and talking while close to the baby. Sometimes referred to as infant-directed- speech (IDS), mother-ese has some lasting effects on speech development. Baby talk in contrast, does not actually make much sense. This limits its benefit to language.



There has been a lot of research on talk directed to kids and its effects on the ability of the child to learn language. One of the most relevant study is one done by Royster,et al.  It shows some of the benefits of infant directed speech. This study was carried out to determine the language outcome on children at 24 months when exposed to this form of speech and sounds at 7, 10 and 11 months.

According to the study, the change in sound had a positive effect on the children’s language. At 24 months the kids were better at expressing themselves too. The changes in word pronunciation at 7, 10 and 11 months did not lower the development of language while the kids became older. Interestingly, the use of real words had a positive effect on open language achievement.

So, the next time you break into baby talk, make it more meaningful. This is by show enthusiasm about the topic. Also, keep the chat face to face and go down to the child’s level. If your toddler is old enough to pronounce a few words, give them a chance to do so. It will teach them more about holding a discussion. Use more real words but keep them simple with a lot of cute sounds. Some of the sound effects include “wheee, moo, yum, boom.” Pronounce words clearly by pulling the vowels and evidently toning the consonants. An example is, “helloo sweeety how is my liitle baaaaby today?”


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