Don’t use “baby talk”

Don’t Use Baby Talk

Recently in a waiting room I over heard a mother say to her young child, “I like how you made a responsible choice”.

Contrast that with a film I watched in my Early Interventions class at ASU. The scenarios were from a video camera that had been hidden in a doctor’s office waiting room, filming interactions with patients and their children while they waited for their appointments. The one that stuck in my mind was a young mother with her 2-year-old daughter. The child had access to some toys and books that were in the waiting room. During the observation the child would bring the mother toys to show her, or books to look at and several times needed help getting along with another child. The mom used almost no verbal language to communicate with the child. She would shake her head no, point for the child to put something back, or stand up and physically move the child or a toy. She referred to the child as “Mamma”, rather than her real first name and that was about the only word she used during the time they spent in the waiting room.

What a stark contrast in the words used by these two mothers.

Talk to your young children often.

By age two the average child should be using about 25 words and know close to 300 words, says Andrew N. Meltzoff, Ph.D., coauthor of The Scientist in the Crib: Minds, Brains, and How Children Learn (William Morrow, 1999). However don’t panic if your child’s vocabulary is a little different, remember every child develops at a different rate (he suggests that if your child does not use 25 words by age 3, consult your pediatrician). And where do they learn those words? From YOU and the people they are around all day. Because a child cannot speak it can be tempting to speak in partial sentences or in “baby talk” thinking they will understand it better. However, just because they have not yet learned to verbalize does not mean they can’t understand what’s being said.

Talk to your young children often.

A few weeks ago my grandson wanted to take a toy into the bathtub that was powered by batteries. My son said he explained to his 5-year-old son about mechanical toys (ones that wind up or are driven by rubber bands), electrical (ones that take batteries) and electrical/mechanical (the combination of both). It was surprising to me that he would explain such a complicated idea to a child so young so and I asked if the 5-year old had understood. My son said he got the idea—he didn’t understand it all perfectly but he understood the concept. He also said the next time he was helping his son in the bathtub the young boy brought it up to him again and he could repeat the information.

Talk to your young children often.

            My daughter in law talks to her 10-month-old daughter as they are grocery shopping. She narrates the trip, talks about what they are seeing, what they are buying, etc. My son says people often look at her like, “Lady, who are you talking to?” I guess they don’t know that that baby is in English 101—learning her first language. For a child every minute they are awake they are in the classroom, so to speak. The more you speak to your child the more language they can learn.

            So, you get the idea? Yes, talk to your young children often, even if you don’t think they are old enough to understand. Remember they can understand more words than they can say and with every word you speak you are helping to increasing their vocabulary and understanding.

We’re back!

Hey there! Good to see you again. We realize that it’s been a while but we’re back. And what better way to come back than to share some fun news.

Back in September when we wrote an article titled “Why?”. Well, that article recently showed up in a magazine here in Thailand! Take a look:



Like I mentioned, we are back–so come back regularly to see new content. We love it when you read our ideas and share yours with us!