bond with baby

Communicating with Baby

Baby Talk

Mother and Baby

Your conversations with Baby throughout the day are crucial for her overall development. BUT...it is not just about what you say; it is about how you say it. When you talk with Baby your speech no doubt will sound melodic - almost as though you are singing a song (for example click here to listen to 'talking to baby'). This 'baby talk' is scientifically known as Infant-Directed Speech (or you may have read about it being referred to as motherese or parentese) and is universal in that sensitive parents and adults around the world instinctively speak to babies using this intonation, no matter what language is being spoken. Importantly, if English is your second language and you are speaking with Baby in your native language, your expressiveness will be as meaningful to Baby as your conversation in English.

Some parents may think that talking to their baby using this expressive style of 'baby talk' is demeaning ... Well, not only does research show that babies prefer to listen to the sound of Infant-Directed Speech compared to the flatter sounding speech of adult-to-adult conversations BUT it also has great importance to babies' development because of specific communicative characteristic (to listen to 'adult' speech click here).

Compared to adult-to-adult speech, 'baby talk' is:

  • Higher in pitch - which stimulates babies and attracts their attention to focus on the parent
  • Contoured by the rising and falling of the pitch and rhythm - which babies identify as parents expressing their affection (for example click here to listen)
  • Slower in tempo/pace - which sustains babies' interest and attention to parents
  • Exaggerated in pronunciation of the vowels - which is an instructive/teaching technique that parents naturally use during conversations with their baby e.g. the word sheep sounds like sheeeep (for example click here to listen).

So, 'baby talk' is essential to development because it:

  • Conveys your affection/emotions necessary for Baby's sense of security and wellbeing
  • Stimulates Baby's desire to listen and socialize with you and others
  • Stimulates Baby's speech and learning of language.

For these reasons research has proven that the unique style of Infant-Directed Speech is essential to a baby's development, wellbeing and to the parent-baby relationship.

Note: Scientific research associated with developing the Bond With Baby program, showed that mothers who were given information about the importance of their interactions and integrated the program's activities into the day with their babies significantly increased the attentional and affective/emotional qualities of their Infant-Directed Speech. So in general, these mothers' speech became more emotionally expressive with their babies, and the babies' show of enjoyment during interactions increased. The mothers in the control groups (those who did not participate in the program) showed a decrease in the attentional and affective/emotional qualities of their Infant-Directed Speech as well as the reciprocal/shared enjoyment of interacting with their baby.