Baby talk?

Baby talk is a nonstandard form of speech used by adults in talking to toddlers and infants, characterized by the shortening and simplifying of words, and more so, the repetition of words, as in cat-cat, car-car, bird-bird, especially in the Singapore context. It is so common to hear parents saying to their babies, "Look at that bird-bird!" while pointing to the bird in the sky, or simplying exclaiming "car-car, dog-dog!!!" in their eagerness to teach their kids.

While many researchers have argued that baby talk is more effective than regular speech in getting an infant's attention and studies have also shown that infants actually prefer to listen to this type of speech, we must know that children understand more than what they can say, so teach them the correct word (and pronunciation) from the start! Try not to simplify words like calling a banana "nana". Children are likely to initially struggle to say a word like “banana” correctly, perhaps saying “nana” instead. However, it’s important that adults continue to model the correct pronunciation. Aim to indirectly follow up an incorrect pronunciation from a child with your own correct model, as just hearing how it should be said in the right context is helpful to children.

Some examples of widely-used baby talk words in Singapore include:

bird bird (birds)
car car (cars)
cat cat (cats)
dada (dad, daddy)
dog dog (dogs)
milk milk (milk)
nana (banana)
num num ( food/dinner)
poo-poo (pass motion)
shee-shee (pee, urinate)

Instead of struggling to correct your kids' language when they grow up, why not start with the correct foundation now?



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