You cannot help but want to coo back at your baby and indulge in some baby-talk – and that’s normal! Your baby is probably the only person in the world you can be so silly with and they’ll still think you are the most awesome person in the universe. But is your baby-talk or ‘mother-ese’ causing a slowing down of your baby’s verbal development?
Baby talk is also referred to as mother-ese and is usually developed with a cooing pattern which is different from normal adult speech. Studies have shown that infants actually prefer to listen to this type of speech rather than standard adult directed speech. Such baby talk is not only important in creating an emotional bond between parents and the child, but it is also important in stimulating the language development centre in the brain.
Why Is Mother-ese an Important Aspect of Language Development?
There are lot of benefits of talking to an infant using motherese as a language pattern. Perhaps the most important benefit is that it stimulates the development of language in children. It has been proven that children who learn the fastest are those who receive most acknowledgement in a loving way from parents or caregivers. While talking to the baby using mother-ese, special attention and focus should be given to the child’s response.
Focusing on language development of your child is both about the quantity and quality of the words parents speak. It is important to note that this comes naturally to parents when they perceive babies as whole people – or able communicators ready to be informed about the happenings in their lives – and in turn share their thoughts and feelings. Comprehending this simple truth and interacting naturally will help the language development of your child exponentially.
So yes, Motherese definitely helps (not hurts) your baby! Here are a few tips to stimulate the language development of your child:
1. Use Your Authentic Voice
It is important to understand the difference between motherese and gibberish baby talk. Motherese means talking to your child in a way in which the words are stretched and intonated in a musical way. For e.g. instead of saying “good morning” we can say “gooouud morningggg”! It is extremely important to use your authentic tone and voice while just stretching the words a little bit.
2. Read Books and Tell Stories Responsively
Reading books responsively means reading with animated tones and actions. Let the baby stay on one page for five minutes and take in the pictures and words on the page while you are reading the story.
3. Relax, Be Patient and Do Not Test Your Child
When parents are worried or anxious, babies are able to sense those feelings. It is very important to create a conducive environment for your baby’s learning by feeling relaxed and being patient. What children need most of all to be able to start talking is the trust of parents and caregivers. When we test our children, we are not trusting them. As parents we are excited to test what our children have learnt and also show it to other family members. However, do remember that performance pressure makes toddlers more likely to clam up.
These strategies mentioned above help you engage with your baby and also encourage the language development of your child. Through practice, infants are able to determine who the positive and encouraging caregivers in their development are. When mother-ese is accepted and enjoyed by your child it expedites their language and cognitive development greatly.