The initial years of a baby’s life are very important. Talking to them constantly introduces them to different words, voices, sounds and noises. They often get excited when spoken to in interesting ways and this helps them communicate.
When my daughter was a baby I would unknowingly start talking to her in a high-pitched speech with an emphasis on the vowels. She would just love it. Her grandmother would often ask her over the phone Heelllooo! Where’s the baybeee? And at this she would be so excited that she would want her to jump out of the phone and stand right in front of her.
This form of language is known as Parentese. This is different from baby talk and comes naturally to all parents and people around babies. Basically, in this the adult speaks to the child in a repetitive and exaggerated speech, with short sentences. While baby talk uses nonsense words and sounds.
It is helpful for both the parents and babies. Parents connect well with their children. Babies are delighted to listen to parentese rather than the usual adult conversation. They turn their head to the person speaking the language. It does not have to be necessarily English. It can be any language as far as there is a sing-song speech along with exaggerated facial expressions. These expressions and elongated vowels accompanied with short simple sentences help the baby to learn the language. The baby brain starts mapping the language in turn helping them to understand and speak the language.
Well how do you really speak in Parentese? So here it is:
- Vary your intonation and the melody of your speech
- Use sing-song pitch
- Use a higher pitch
- Slow your speech. Use elongated vowels and consonants
- Stress certain words by increasing their pitch, intensity and length “How are YOOUUU?”
- Use precise pronunciation and correct grammar
- Use exaggerated facial expressions – like eye contact, big smiles and raising eyebrows
- Use short simple sentences
- Take long pauses
- Repeat, repeat and repeat
Am sure your baby will love it. And don’t forget to give a positive feedback and loving attention to your baby in response to her happy babbles.
Don’t forget to watch this video where Dr. Patricia Kuhl talks about how babies learn and why the first years are so important.