How ‘Parentese’ Helps Develop Your Baby’s Language Skills

“Parentese is that slower, higher-pitched, overly-exaggerated way of speaking to babies that you see most adults using. We open our eyes wider, put on big smiles, and over-enunciate the words we’re saying.” //

Baby talking, or ‘parentese’ is more than just a way to amuse babies. It is a critical component in developing their language skills too! The impact will come from how often we talk parentese to our children and how robust our vocabulary is with them. Other important factors include the pitch we use, our vocal speed and more.

Baby talk – also known as infant-directed speech, or “parentese” – is a focus of a new study at Western University Sydney’s new BabyLab.

Marina Kalashnikova, a researcher in infancy studies with Western University of Sydney’s BabyLab, says that “parentese” is much more than just a cute way of talking to babies.”

“Parents increase the pitch of their voice, which maintains the attention of their babies more, and makes the task of learning language easier,” she says. “Parents also exaggerate the pronunciation of sounds in their speech.” //

She goes on to say that the amount of time that parents spend talking to their babies every day varies greatly across different families, but that the more talking they hear when engaged one on one, the better and more positive an impact develops in regards to their language growth.


Baby Talking

It’s important to remember that talking ‘around’ your baby doesn’t constitute the effective use of parentese. It needs to be actual face to face interaction, where they can also observe your lips moving and are actively engaged in looking at your face and hearing what you’re saying.

Most babies will say their first words at around 12 months of age, and will generally talk about what’s closest to them, such as mom or dad. Many of them will even say their cat or dog’s name!



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