I couldn’t help it. I held my little grandson #2, as he was looking at me and cooing and talking with me. And I talked back. I used his language, and his inflections. I basically said the same things back to him.
We have been told to not talk baby talk to infants and young children. The rationale is that talking baby-talk is actually demeaning, talking down to the kids. Yet, we all do it. We extend the vowels. We increase the pitch of our voices, and use a sing-song rhythm. And we do this because the babies pay attention. As grandparents, my grandsons have trained ME to talk to them this way using postive reinforcements. Also known as smiles and eye contact. These are just as important to me as it is to the baby.
The rhythms and the sing-song speach inflections have research behind them, too. Jim Trelease “Read Aloud Handbook” has done a lot of research on how children learn to read. He shows how rhyming books, and reading out loud to children helps their brains develop, helps their language form, and helps later on with their educational endeavors.
And it all starts with the three-month old teaching Gramma Nettie how to talk to him.