As you watch your baby grow and develop from a sleepy newborn to an alert and aware infant, you begin to think about all of their milestones ahead, including their first words. The development of an infant’s language skills begins long before those first words are uttered. As parents, we want to give our children the best possible start, and there is a simple way that parents can help their baby develop their language and social skills through the use of parentese.
What is Parentese?
Often mistakenly referred to as baby talk, parentese is actually a way of communicating with your child using words. Parentese does not refer to nonsensical sounds and babbles from the parent but rather a combination of simple words while using an exaggerated tone and pitch when speaking to your baby. In a 2018 study, researchers found that parents who practiced parentese with their baby saw an increase in the words used and more attempts at conversation at 14 months, than those babies whose parents did not actively practice parentese. At 18 months, there was a much more drastic difference between the language development between the two groups with a wider gap and jump in vocabulary with the babies that practiced parentese.
How Do You Practice Parentese With Your Child?
The purpose of practicing parentese with your child is to develop not only their language skills but also their social skills and ability to recognize conversational cues.
Here are some ways to incorporate parentese into your daily interactions with your child:
- Have conversations with your child, and take turns in the conversation by pausing and allowing them to respond with babbles and attempts at words.
- Speak to your child while facing them and make regular eye contact, incorporate their name into the conversation and watch for cues from your child that they are engaged and listening.
- Use an excited and high-pitched voice and exaggeration of vowels to draw and keep their attention.
- Talk about what you are doing and explain what you are about to do (i.e. “We are going to eat”, “Mommy is washing your hair”, “Let’s play with the ball!”)
Helping your baby grow and improve his skills can be as fun as it is essential. To learn more about your baby’s milestones and development, contact us to make an appointment.