Parantese: Teaching infants to communicate
Learn more about how this way of speaking encourages language development in infants.
Babies need to hear you talk even though they can’t talk. Babies love your voice and will choose to listen to it over any other sound! Babies also watch how you move your mouth to make sounds. This is helping to make connections in a baby’s brain that help him to hear the sounds of his own language.
Parentese is a special language that parents and others use with babies and is described by PBS as the “sing-song speech, often accompanied by exaggerated facial expressions.” It is a very natural and good way to speak to babies. Babies are fascinated with this special way of talking; they will watch and listen closely when adults use it. When using parentese, parents tend to use a higher pitched voice and many more facial expressions and much more inflection in their voices. Around 3 months of age, babied begin responding vocally to this type of communication in the form of cooing. Cooing involves mostly vowel sounds and happens most often when interacting with others. When your baby begins to coo, use that cooing as his part of the conversation when you’re talking to him. Interpret his coos as you do his other actions.
Teaching your baby to talk is really very simple. You may be doing things already to aid in that process and you aren’t aware of it. The first thing to do is to pay attention to her attempts to communicate, like crying. If you respond to your baby’s crying she’s going to want to keep the conversation going; if you don’t respond to her needs, your baby will mostly likely not want to communicate with you.
Becoming your baby’s communication partner is very important. Talking to your baby is the most important thing you can do! Talk to your baby even though he can’t talk back to you! Talking to babies is very natural for some parents, but not for others. Just remember that babies need help to learn to talk. Learning begins long before they say their first words. Start now to teach your baby to talk!
For more articles on child development, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.