Importance of Using Parentese, Not Baby Talk

Reading to Babies

In the book Baby Read-Aloud Basics, the authors Caroline J. Blakemore and Barbara Weston Ramirez, explain the importance of reading to babies and using parentese when speaking to babies.

The explain, “If you think reading to babies is having a quiet baby on your lap as you read straight from a book, think again. Reading to babies looks and feels very different from reading to older children.”

While reading the book we learn that the principle difference in reading to babies is the way you interrelate using your voice and a baby book. This way of talking to newborns is called parentese.

The book notes that parents from every culture from everywhere on the globe speak to their babies in a singsongy, higher pitched, slower, louder voice.

Studies show that starting at about five-weeks old, babies prefer parentese, rather than regular adult conversation. Parentese is the best way for babies to hear and learn language.

With parentese you speak more slowly so babies can hear the individual sounds and words in the stream of speech. This helps them distinguish the unique rhythm of the language spoken in the home.

The more parentese talk babies hear before the ate of two. The more words they’ll learn. A large vocabulary will lead to higher intelligence and academic achievement in school. Parentese aids in the process of learning the sounds. Grammar, and structure of language, necessary for effective speaking, reading, and writing.

Parentese is not baby talk. Baby talk is the actual altering of the spelling of the words, bordering on nonsense. It can turn a sentence like, “Look at the cute little baby,” into “Wook at zu coot wittle “babykins.” Baby talk is very distorted and would actually delay infant language development if that is what babies usually heard.

Main Features of Parentese

• Put your face close to the baby’s face
• Use shorter utterances
• Speak in a melodious tone
• Articulate clearly
• Vary and raise their pitch
• Frequently use repetition
• Use exaggerated facial expressions (eye contact, raising of eyebrows, and big smiles)
• Move their bodies rhythmically
• Lengthen vowels (soooo cuuuute)
• Use shorter sentences
• Use longer pauses

Listening in the first few months of life is a key building block in the formation of good language. Parentese helps babies hear and learn their parent’s language. Parents, nannies, siblings, and grandparents will find that speaking parentese is part of the natural bonding process. In fact, most adults don’t even notice they are using their voice in this new way since it is often instinctual.

You can purchase your own copy of the book by clicking link above or below:

Baby Read-Aloud Basics: Fun and Interactive Ways to Help Your Little One Discover the World of Words

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