Have you ever seen a baby reacting excitedly when an adult talks to a baby in a normal voice and plain sentences with a blank face? Most probably, not! Whereas we see babies smiling, giggling and wiggling in response to our high pitched sing-songy voice. Long-tailed pronunciations, exaggerated facial expressions and rhythmic voice are what characterize ‘Parentese’. This way of speaking that we naturally tend to use is a special language used by parents and adults to talk to the babies.
Do Babies Respond more to Parentese ?
Babies are naturally drawn towards music and rhythm rather than the plain speech. Musical speaking stimulates their audio sensory receptors and helps them remember the sounds of the words, rhythm of the speech and faces better. Other than that, it is simply fun and entertaining to listen to something that sounds nice. So yes, babies do respond and learn more from Parentese.
Tips to Speak in Parentese Effectively
- Use proper words, but elongate the vowels. Like ‘Baaabeee’, ‘Sweeetyyy’.
- Use high pitched voice and rhythmic tone.
- Speak as though you are reciting a poem.
- Make it sound melodious to retain baby’s attention.
- Use shorter sentences and speak slowly.
- Take pauses to give the baby a chance to process your speech.
- Use clear pronunciations and stress differently on confusing words.
- Keep an eye contact and keep on a smile.
- Widen or squint eyes, cringe your nose, or raise eyebrows to stress on the emotions.
- Talk to your baby as much as you can. To keep things interesting, you can also use parentese when you are reciting nursery rhymes or reading a story book out loud.
Cautions to take when Speaking Parentese
- Most importantly, do not confuse Parentese with baby talk. Baby talk is just something that jumbles up the words and basically, makes them non-sense. Baby talk can confuse the babies rather than helping them with language development. Parentese uses proper words and pronunciations, only spoken in more entertaining manner to the baby.
- Don’t omit articles, conjunctions, gerunds from the sentence. Let the baby hear the sentence that is grammatically correct and meaningful.
- Remember that babies are not dumb. They do not need to hear just sounds instead of words. Don’t always say ‘Choo Choo’ instead of ‘Train’. Though use the sounds to make the word more interesting.
- Don’t underestimate the influence of a smiling face when speaking to a baby. Smile makes them feel loved and makes you more appealing to them.
Benefits of Speaking in Parentese to Babies:
- Speaking in Parentese holds the baby’s attention for a longer time. Longer they look at your face and hear to what you are saying, more information they are gathering to be processed.
- Exaggerated expressions teach them how to decode different emotions.
- Babies learn to associate changes in sounds to changes in your facial expressions.
- Babies try to imitate you a lot quicker when you speak in Parentese. This encourages them to try to speak early. They often respond to your speech with cooing and babbling sounds.
So, next time you talk to your baby, go ahead and act silly. Use your ‘eeeee’s and ‘aaaa’s to your baby’s advantage and make all kinds of cute, funny faces you want. You are actually teaching them a very important life skill of expressing themselves through language.