Posted: September 3, 2019
Adults can use child-directed speech when talking to babies to help them develop their communication skills.
You may have already heard terms such as “baby-talk”, “motherese”, or “parentese” to describe the way an adult talks to babies. This type of speech helps babies pay attention to our voice so they can better notice the sounds and words we produce. This is important because when babies hear sounds and words repeatedly, they become better prepared to understand and say their first words (which is typically at around their first birthday).
HOW TO USE CHILD-DIRECTED SPEECH:
1. Use simple and grammatical language. It can be one word (e.g. “Up!), a few words “Going up!”, or full sentences (“We’re going up!”)
- How can you tell if it is grammatical? Ask yourself, “Would I say this to an adult?” or “Does this sound funny?”. For example, “Baby want ball” is not grammatical and “Baby wants the ball” is grammatical).
3. Use a “sing-songy” voice while talking. Using a melodic voice sounds as if you are singing while talking!
4. Use a higher pitch. Babies pay more attention to what we say when we speak in a slightly higher pitch!
5. Slow down speech and pause more often. This helps babies hear the sounds and the words in our language!
6. Emphasize key words (e.g. “There’s your BELLY!). Usually, this is the last word in a sentence!
As babies listen to adults speak to them, they may begin making sounds, gestures, or facial expressions in response. When this happens, copying what they do/say or having a "conversation" with them will encourage them to continue communicating!