Strange as it may seem, that high-pitched, singsong voice that comes out of us when we speak to a baby actually does wonders for his or her development. From social skills to language development to positive self-esteem, the benefits of talking to your infant are endless.
Many parents are amazed when they bring their newborn baby home and it seems that the tiny being already knows the voices of mom and dad. Studies show that infants do indeed recognize the voices of parents and those that were present while the baby was in utero.
The newborn may even turn his or her head toward your voice when you talk. Since newborn babies’ eyesight isn’t clear, hearing a familiar sound can do wonders to calm and soothe him or her. Talking to your infant in a soft voice helps reduce stress levels when he or she is upset.
That higher-pitched, sing-song rhythm of exaggerated sounds and nonsense words is many times referred to as “motherese”. It seems to be a natural way of speaking to a baby, and many parents (or anyone, for that matter), are embarrassed the first time they hear it escape their lips.
The fact is, though, that babies are more likely to pay attention to this type of speech than speech that is monotone and deep. You may notice that your baby watches your mouth or facial expressions when you speak. This observation allows your baby to see how sounds are formed and learn speech patterns important to his or her native language.
Take advantage of the many learning opportunities that speaking to your baby presents. Foster early language development by responding when your baby babbles. Say things such as “Is that right” or “I know!” in response to your baby’s goos and gahs. This allows your baby to be social, and teaches the basic process of human communication. Through the give and take of a conversation, he or she will learn the pattern of you talk, I talk.
Not only is talking to your baby beneficial mentally, it is important for emotional growth as well. It offers a time to bond with your baby, giving him or her affection and providing a secure environment and loving relationship. This helps to build your baby’s self-esteem and concept of family.
So go ahead. Talk in that high-pitched tone and don’t care who hears you. Know that your baby is gaining multiple benefits from conversation…that should be worth any embarrassment it may cause.