You’ve probably found your self goo-gooing, gaa-gaaing and coo-cooing at your baby far too many times than you can count. This age-old manner of speaking to babies is known as baby talk and a new research shows baby talk is a language, a universal language of motherhood.
What is Baby Talk?
By definition, baby talk or motherese is the distinct voice and speech changes that occur when moms and other adults speak to babies. The timbre of the voice usually rises, people speak slower and draw out syllables. This more enthusiastic and animated speech pitch and pattern tends to come out naturally when conversing with an infant, especially for women.
Research Shows Baby Talk is a Language
Several previous studies have indicated the existence and value of baby talk. The latest research published in the journal Current Biology reveals several important findings about baby talk and how we communicate differently with various types of people.
Initially the study focused on a small group of 12 English-speaking moms. Researchers recorded how they spoke to their babies and how they spoke to other adults. Using a speech recognition algorithm aimed at distinguishing timbre, the machine was able to determine if moms were speaking to their babies or adults within one second.
The test was then repeated on 12 moms who spoke various languages. The results were the same: moms speak baby talk to their infants in up to 9 other languages. These languages include Spanish, French, Hebrew, German, Cantonese, Polish, Mandarin, Hungarian and Russian.
The Value of Baby Talk
By slowing down speech and making words more engaging to infants through baby talk, they are better able to grasp early language skills. Not only does baby talk help infants learn word meanings, it is also a beginning to speech development. Sounds, syllables and sentence structure are easier to grasp through baby talk.
Additionally, baby talk helps babies connect with speakers. Have you ever noticed that the store clerk who speaks baby talk to your little one gets his attention far more than the one who just speaks plainly? That illustrates the magic of baby talk.
As you use motherese to communicate with your baby, he feels safe and you’re deepening your bond. Use baby talk as much as possible in the first year of your baby’s life. It will encourage language and emotional development. That means you can coo during diaper changes, go googly during breastfeeding, and pull out your best oohs, ahhs and facial expressions at playtime.
This research shows baby talk is a language, and this universal language of motherhood truly spans the globe. While our words may be different, the way in which we connect with our little ones is collective and it’s all for the love of babies.
Sources: Tech Times and Refinery29