I’m not sure if it’s the mom in me or the teacher in me, but I absolutely cringe at the sound of baby talk.
When I say “baby talk” I’m not referring to high-pitched sweet tones we use when talking to a baby or toddler. I’m talking about purposely using wrong sounds and pronouns because we think it is cute…because there is absolutely nothing cute about teaching a child how to speak incorrectly.
As an early childhood teacher, I’ve seen time and time again, students that are so confused because what they learned at home, and what they are learning in school contradict each other.
One may think it’s cute to count “one, two, free, four” when talking to a child, but I promise, it is not cute in a first grade classroom. Children learn to speak by listening to the people that interact with them. So why in the world would we speak incorrectly, on purpose, it absolutely blows my mind.
I’ve even noticed on some shows my toddler has watched that characters may use the “ur” sound for the “ir” sound, such as saying furst instead of first; or Heaven help me, using “w’s” instead of “r’s” such as “The wed wacecar was fast.” Maybe people think that babies and toddlers grow out of this type of speech long before they start school, but I promise they don’t, and then they are starting school behind and confused.
I don’t believe any parent has purposely tried to sabotage their child’s language development, but I do believe that many parents are doing just that. I even catch myself sometimes; just today I asked my little boy if he was excited to go “simmin.” I’m not really sure what “simmin” is, so I repeated myself and asked him if he was excited to go swimming instead.
The proper form of baby talk is highly encouraged, especially in birth to 12 months. By adding emotion, tone, and exaggerated vowel sounds to our speech around babies, they are better able to learn the language.
But in no way, shape, or form should we be speaking incorrectly to the little ones that are soaking up everything we say.