Q&A: Why is Our Daughter Starting to Use “Baby Talk”?

CME WebsitesChild Development, Toddlers 12 - 36 Months

blockquote_bgOur daughter recently turned 3 and started a playgroup, 3 mornings a week. Her speech was always really good relative to our friends kids; she was using long sentences soon after her 2nd birthday. However, in the past 2 weeks, since she started playgroup, she has started using “baby talk”, pronouncing words incorrectly when she clearly knows how to say them correctly. Is this something we should worry about or will she grow out of it? Should we ignore it or talk to her about it? I’ve heard of this sort of thing happening when a baby is born but our wee boy is 1 this week so it doesn’t seem connected to that.

I would suggest that ignoring this when you can is best, because as a three year old she is probably just imitating the younger children in her class. The more attention she gets for it, the more she may continue to do it. It is similar to when a child says a naughty word and everyone laughs or even scolds and is shocked and says “don’t say that!” and then the child repeats and repeats it for shock value. If she says a word using baby talk, instead of drawing attention to it, just can also just casually repeat her sentence using the correct adult words so she hears it correctly again. For example, if she says “Dada me want a blankey” you can just state “Oh, you want Daddy to give you a blanket”. I would give her some time, since it’s only been 2 weeks in her new playgroup and is a transitional period for her and see if it decreases over time.

You can talk to her about it in an age appropriate manner, but not directly after she uses her “baby talk”…maybe at bedtime talk about what a big girl she is and how well she can speak and tell her how she can be a teacher or a helper to the other younger children at play group by using her big girls words instead of baby talk. You can talk about the differences between big girls and babies during playtime with her, role playing with her dolls as well. Whenever she does not use her baby talk and uses her big girl words, that’s when you want to lavish on the attention and praise…”Wow, what a big girl you are using your big girl words instead of baby talk, I can understand you SO much better this way.”