Is it okay to use 'baby talk' with my child? Milestones

You know the best way to help your baby learn to talk is to chat her up. And some moms wonder whether there's a 'right' or 'wrong' way to do that. Truth is, there really isn't -- each mom has her own way of communicating with her baby. Here, what pediatricians and other moms advise when it comes to baby talk.

It's Good to Keep It Slow and Simple

"Infant-directed speech is different than using nonsense words or repeating poor pronunciation. Infant-directed speech using exaggerated emotion, slower speech with clear articulation, and speaking in simple sentences may help infants and toddlers acquire language skills." -- Maria Lombardi, DO, pediatrician at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, Valhalla, New York 

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Tone of Voice Matters

"You may speak to your baby however you would like. Babies respond best to a soothing voice." -- Lisa Liu, MD, physician at Loyola Center for Health at Gottlieb, assistant professor of family medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Melrose Park, Illinois

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Make It Melodic

"I used a singsong-type voice when my daughter was very little, but it was always grammatically correct. I didn't use made-up words."

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Offer Explanations

"Sure, I sang silly songs and made funny noises, but mostly I talked to my kids like I talk to everybody else. I did ask questions and answer them when they were infants, but one thing I found my kids loved was explanations. I explained what was happening when I changed their diaper, why they had to take a bath, eat good food for dinner, play, relax, everything. I still talk to them constantly, and they are excellent conversationalists at 3 and 5 years old."

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Some Moms Don't Use Baby Talk

"Baby talk is not going to hurt them, but I think using clear and simple sentences in a normal tone helps my baby learn faster and understand what is going on. You'd be surprised at how quickly a baby will start lifting their arms towards you to be picked up if you always use the same phrase. I prefer to use, 'Would you like to come up?' to 'uppy baby,' for example." 

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Don't Hinder Them With Baby Talk

"I was nurturing, and I tend to boost my children up with sweet words. I was told that since my oldest was a preemie that he could have speech problems. I decided not to hinder him by doing baby talk. When he was a year old, he had the vocabulary of a 22-month-old."

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The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.