Berkeley Parents Network >
Worries Big & Little >
Help! My extremely articulate 3-year old has started talking
baby talk. (He skipped baby talk as toddler and started
talking very early.) I know that he is trying to imitate his 18-
month old brother (who is not really talking yet). But I don't
know how to get the 3 year old to talk in his regular voice.
The baby talk is driving me nuts! Oddly, the baby talk comes
out when he's happy and playing, usually with adults giving
him plenty of attention. Any suggestions, oh wise parents?
(I didn't see anything in the archives about this.)
Many older sibs go through a baby talk phase, and yes, it drives adults
crazy, but it will pass. Try to ignore it, as harping on it will likely
draw it out longer. It's totally normal.
--a very experienced nanny
Your son is advanced, because mine did this when he was four.
and like yours, when he wasn't using babytalk, he was quite articulate
and pronounced words very well. My wonderful sitter told him
repeatedly, and nicely ''Use your big boy voice, please''
and he has gotten a lot better.
A great way to keep this baby talk up is to worry about it and make him
think it/he is bad. Maybe sometimes, being 3yo is a lot of pressure on
him and he wants to pretend to be younger. Pretend play is okay. And
like you said, it's not constant.
**Denying him the ability to express doesn't feel right to me.** He is
not being abusive when doing it, so there is no real reason to make him
stop, other than it annoys you. But definitely let him know that baby
pretend is only at certain times (not around guests, if it's that
important to you).
Possibly, he feels he will be thought of as cute (like the younger
sibling), and therefore emulates his brother. Perhaps he needs more
one-on-one attention (and praise!) from mom and dad.
He needs to know that all his 3yo stuff is just as cute as the younger
one who stole his thunder. Be especially keen on praising all the big
boy stuff that he does.
I wouldn't make a big deal about it. Just set some structure. If it
embarrasses you around friends, you could say ''Dear, we're not doing
baby play right now. It's time to be a big boy, and we'll do baby
pretend later on''. And then truly give him the opportunity to play baby
when it's just you with him. After playing baby for awhile (try to get
into it- pretend play is important for kids), say ''That was fun. I
don't want to play baby anymore. Let's play big boy now''. He will be
able to revert as needed in this case, get it out of his system, and see
also that he is valued.
When you go back to big boy play, remind him that we need to use our
words the right way too, so that little bro learns to speak just as well
as his big brother.
He'll grow out of it.
My mom went through a similar experience with me and my two years
younger brother. I can tell you personally that it stemmed from mild
jealousy of the attention paid my little brother when he ''talked'' vs.
when I did. I wasn't able to rationalize that I had experienced the
same level of excited attention from my parents over my every goo and
coo, and I began to emulate him to attract attention. It drove my mom
Her solution, which I do not recommend is that she would scold me and
ask me to talk with my ''big girl'' voice, she also would ignore baby
talk from me. It made me feel invalidated and hurt, and led to me being
stubborn and resentful--refusing to talk in anything but the baby voice.
He could just be a little jealous and insecure. My suggestion is that
you make sure you are paying lots of attention to both your little ones
and that your older child gets positive reinforcement for using ''big
boy'' language. If you make a big deal about it when he uses ''baby
talk'', he may enjoy even the negative attention paid him and ham it up
(as I did). Keep in mind it's likely just a passing phase and perhaps
he hasn't really regressed, so much as begun to exercise his abundant
creativity by play acting as his younger sibling for attention.
I know I found a personal bit of fascination with my little brothers
efforts and enjoyed emulating him out of psuedo- scientific interest as
much as for the attention. If the older boy is a gifted child (as I
was) it may just be an intellectual exploration game for him. He still
knows how to ''talk big'' I'd just give him a little extra love and
attention and he'll likely return to where he was before. Good luck! :)
--Martha (reasonably articulate now...)
My 3 y.o. daughter started doing this even before I got pregnant with
her sister, but then she really started doing it a lot when the baby
came. She had also spoken very well at a young age, so the baby talk
was a clear regression. She was convinced that it was ''cute'' and she
even got upset when I told her that I didn't think it was cute.
(Although at the same time she didn't want to be called ''cute''.) So I
just reassured her as much as possible that she is beautiful and also
reinforced all the great things she can do that the baby couldn't. Also
I reassured her often that ''there is no one I love more than you''
(i.e. I don't love you more than your sister, but I don't love her more
either.) At first it really annoyed me and I made a big thing about it,
but eventually I learned to ignore it and she stopped doing it.
--learning to be a little more ''zen'' about things
Our first child is 2.5 years old. And we recently went to visit
relatives with a child the same age.
I was suprised to hear her speak clearly and understand? Our
child still speaks 'baby talk' we understand her. i wonder what
age should i start to worry.
She doesn't get much interaction with others, just her parents.
I am looking into pre school for the interaction with other kids
but i've been unemployed for 9 months so the affordable preschool
is booked. I was #6 on the waiting list.
So should i be worried or am I just a nervous father?
p.s. we just started potty training
Do you speak ''baby talk'' to her, or do you talk normally to her?
I have a friend who talks babytalk to her child, and in turn,
the child (who is very intelligent) talks babytalk too.
It's hard to tell without hearing her. Most 2.5 year olds should
be stringing together sentences of at least 2-3 words and should
be able to be understood by people outside the family 50% or more
of the time. Call your pediatrician or the Regional Center if
you are still worried. If there is a language issue, the sooner
therapy for it starts the better the outcome. Preschool isn't
necessarily the answer. Good luck!
Well, it might not be what you want to hear...but it surprises me
to learn your child doesn't speak at least clearly if not in
sentances already. My daughter is 26 mos. old and has been
speaking clearly for what seems like a year. Most of her friends
that are the same age, speak clearly as well. Some might not talk
as much as she does, but when they do, it's not baby talk.
She speaks in clear sentences and generally repeats everything
that we say. I don't think it's unheard of for a child to go
without saying anything for a long time and then all of a sudden
burst out talking in sentences, but if she is ''babbling'' which is
what I presume babytalk to mean, you might want to have her
hearing checked. Good luck.
My son will be 3 in December and speaks very clearly, and has
for some time. However, he has a friend, 1 month younger than
he, who has only recently become articulate enough for adults to
capture bits and pieces of her conversation (even her Dad
doesn't understand her!) She has been tested for a number of
developmental issues, and was fine on everything except one
completely unrelated physical milestone. Obviously, if you're
worried I would ask the pediatrician, but for me, I wouldn't
worry. If it goes another year, then I would definitely look at
things like hearing, but until then just enjoy this fabulous age.
this page was last updated: Feb 22, 2008
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network