How Effective Is Using Baby Talk For Improving Your Child's Speech Skills?

Baby Talk: how good is it really for improving your child's speech skills?

How appropriate is baby talk really to for improving my child's speech skills? Is there not a different approach I can use to get great results?

Using appropriate language doesn’t have to mean using ‘funny speak’ in the ‘Is diddums a teeny weeny bit poosey woosey’ sense.

So what does it mean?

But it does mean speaking clearly and slowly enough so that a child can get the sense more easily.

Talk: A Book of First Words and Phrases

"If you have a toddler that loves "babies" then he/she will love this book! I checked this book out of the library for my 23 month old son last month. He has memorized practically every word ... and loves to chime in saying "up, up, up" and "bye, bye babies." This book is beautifully illustrated and my son loves to point to the pictures as I am reading. My son was so upset when we had to take this book back to the library today (he keeps asking for his "baby book") that I am now ordering it on-line for him!"

It may mean using simpler language – though my older child, at the age of about 2 and a half, delighted in surprising adults with new, and usually long words, that he had overheard – ‘Epidiascope!’ and ‘Sphygmomanometer!’ uttered very loudly one morning in a hotel breakfast room caused a whole table full of middle aged choking over the muesli. He didn’t know the meanings, but just enjoyed the effect he was having.


In most cultures researchers have discovered that people often develop their own "baby-type conversation" when talking to small children:

  • they take more care with their articulation and accent

  • speak at a relatively slow speed, and

  • use shorter sentences

  • higher pitch is a common feature, as is

  • a more variable tone than is usual in interactions between peers

  • Another important point is that these caregivers will accept a child’s responses as early experiments in conversation and so, between carer and child, a ‘conversation’ takes place which brings satisfaction to both - even when neither is intelligible to the other.

It's not the answer

I always said I wouldn’t use ‘baby-type conversation’ with my children, and I more or less successfully avoided such terms as ‘Pussy Wussy’ and ‘Bow Wow’.

Why did I make such a resolution, even before my first child was born? 

First of all at that stage I couldn’t imagine discussing ‘Moocows’ with a baby.

But my main reason does have some validity – what is the point of teaching a child that a four legged canine which barks is called a ‘doggie woggie’ when a year or two later they have to unlearn this early talk and use the correct word ‘dog’.

Whether or not you choose my route, you do need to think carefully about what you do say and adapt slightly.

A strategy to avoid at all cost

Long sentences just confuse small children. And they are likely to switch off, before the end.

More About Speech Development...

Early Childhood



Development Stages

Importance of reading


No toddler can cope easily with ‘We are going to Grandma’s so stop what you are doing, put your toys away and then get your shoes and coat on.’, but ‘Time for grandma’s’ followed by, ‘Let’s get ready’ will almost always produce a better response. 

Try to use sentences that are only slightly longer than the ones your child is already producing, so if he can say ‘Drink’ you can say ‘Nice drink?’ and if he can say ‘More biscuit’ you will say ‘Want a biscuit?’

This idea can seem daunting in the abstract, but in practice it seems to be more or less natural – even slightly older siblings do it without thinking.

And by using those slightly longer sentences than the toddler is using you are all the time stretching the child just a tiny bit towards the next stage of his vocal development.

Baby talk strategies to use

Just as there are strategies to avoid, there are known things that work for improving your baby’s speech development.Read about 11 more activities and games I write about for you to use today to improve your baby’s speech skills and move away from mere baby talk

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