Understanding Parentese: What Is It and Why You Should Do It

Preschool News
mother playing wooden toy with her baby

Ever wondered what your baby would say if it could talk back? Sometimes, when your infant cries, it’s hard to figure out whether your kid is hungry or wants cuddles. It would be such a relief if only your baby could respond and tell you what he really likes or wants to do. 

Babies cannot speak clearly, but they are great observers and can absorb the emotional tone of your voice. So, it’s important to express your love and affection to your baby regardless of the language barrier. Your baby’s first year will surely be filled with developmental milestones, one of which is uttering its first words and phrases. Make sure to be there, so you’ll be the one to hear your baby talk for the first time.

Long before your child can speak, the way you converse with your baby will affect how slow or fast it can pick up words. Research has shown that talking to children like adults strengthens their cognitive and language skills. In this article, we’ll discuss the speaking method known as parentese and its importance in early childhood development.

What is Parentese?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could understand the language of babies? However, babies haven’t fully developed their language skills yet. The only method you can use to talk to your baby easily is by way of parentese, where you exaggerate your vowel sounds.  

Parentese, also known as infant-directed speech or motherese, is a special method of conversing with your baby by elongating the words without eliminating any syllable. Here, you use real words but are a bit high-pitched and sing-songy.

How to Speak Parentese?

As per the parentese definition, it refers to the use of elaborated vowel sounds. Parentese helps draw the attention of your baby. But, for it to be effective, you have to practice speaking to your child by saying simple words in a happy and elevated tone but with a much slower tempo. This way, you are inviting your baby to engage in the conversation.

Benefits of Parentese in Early Childhood Development

Talking in parentese helps babies develop their speaking abilities in their younger years. Read on to find out the benefits children can get when you engage them in parentese conversations.

Develops Motor Speech and Language Skills

Parentese is one of the effective ways to strengthen cognitive and social development skills. Moreover, it activates the areas of the brain for motor speech. Conversing regularly using parentese teaches your kids to articulate well by picking up the language easily. So by the time they start preschool, they are well-equipped and good at expressing themselves clearly.

Widens Your Child’s Vocabulary

A study from the University of Washington Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences shows that babies who get used to parentese speech started talking sooner. Children with parents who engaged in parentese coaching babbled more and produced more words as early as 14 months of age. Speech and language skills also help young children develop reading, writing, interpersonal skills.

Enhances Communication Between You and Your Baby

Engaging your child in back-and-forth exchanges or conversational turns promotes interaction between the two of you. Parents who use parentese gain more trust and loyalty from their children as opposed to those who do not.

Tips for Practicing Parentese Speech

As you practice the Parentese way of speaking to your child, you establish a special bond and connection just by having real conversations between you and your baby. That said, we’ve listed down some tips to help you keep up with the Parentese speech method.

  • Speak softly and slowly transition from baby talk to adult speech. Use an excited or high-pitched voice and exaggerate the vowel sounds.
  • Use the real names of things. For instance, say the proper name of “dog” instead of saying “bow-wow”. This will guide your baby to associate things using the right terms.
  • Take cues and learn how to listen to your baby’s facial expressions or movements. Do your best to respond even though you don’t understand what your baby is trying to tell you.
  • Make sure your baby is paying attention to every word you say. Don’t forget to incorporate your child’s name into the conversation. When speaking, always face your baby and make regular eye contact.
  • Talk often to your baby. Practice speaking with your baby while engaging in daily activities. Do this while feeding, bathing, or playing with your child. You can also talk to them while showing their favorite toy or describing pictures in books.
  • Have back and forth conversations with your child. Be patient and wait for your kid to respond. Try to imitate the sounds and notice the nonverbal gestures your baby makes.

What is Baby Talk and its Difference From Parentese?

Goo goo ga ga? Bet you’re all familiar with this one along with “mama” and “dada”, which are some of the famous baby talk examples. Unlike parentese, baby talk combines silly sounds and gag-inducing made-up words. Parentese uses real words and phrases that are grammatically correct. Meanwhile, baby talk only involves giggles, gurgles, and coos.

Importance of Parentese and Baby Talk

Talking to your child using a high-pitched and slow-tempo speech makes language learning easier for them. By overenunciating words in a sing-song voice, you are helping your baby pick up the words faster. 

Baby talk is useless if you would only make cute and strange noises without saying real words and phrases. But, if you want your conversations with your baby to become more engaging, you can incorporate the playful baby talk tone while saying actual words.

Make Real Conversations With Your Child, Not Just Baby Talk

Through parentese, you can connect more with your child emotionally and cognitively. This powerful language tool helps infants interact effectively with their parents and caregivers. As early as 7 months, talking to your child helps develop social interaction skills that your kid can carry up to adolescence and adult years. For more parenting tips and advice, check out the Rayito de Sol blog today.

March 16, 2022