Adam Lane Smith, known as @TheBrometheus on Twitter has gotten himself into a heated argument with the Twitterverse over a comment he made about ‘baby talk.‘ He said that he and his wife do not speak ‘baby talk’ at their young children but rather, they use full conversational sentences and because of that, their children are verbally exceptional.
Here’s exactly what he wrote:
My wife and I never baby talk to our kids. We use full sentences and a wide vocabulary including complex words.
My son is 3 and can carry a full conversation. Adults at family gatherings are shocked at his social aptitude. My daughter isn’t even 2 and she uses 4-syllable words.
— Adam Lane Smith (@TheBrometheus) January 25, 2020
Ok. Now, before anyone gets upset, let me wade into this debate very carefully with my own personal experience. My husband and I have three children all under the age of ten. We also have never used ‘baby talk’ and have always believed that we should speak to our children using the same language we use for ourselves. As a result, our kids were verbally expressive at unexpectedly young ages. That being said, you don’t see me posting all over Twitter about it or picking fights with people who respond, which is really where the problem comes in with this tweet.
The responses to Smith’s tweet have been…colorful. Like this Twitter user who points out how elitist sounding Smith’s tweet comes across.
My husband and I never baby talk to our kid. We use formulaic generalizations about public schools and teachers and pretend we are individualizing! But really it's about me and my ego!
My son is a genius because of ME ME ME!
— Hannah Grieco (@writesloud) January 29, 2020
Or this Twitter user who compared Smith’s superior parenting to his even more superior dog owning.
My 1.5 year old golden retriever explained to my investment Banker neighbor how collateralized debt obligations and fraudulent bond ratings collapsed our entire economy. Your move.
— Bond, James Bond (@commandrchief) January 26, 2020
But not everyone fun. Some Twitter commenters solidly agreed with the core messaging of what Smith is getting at, and that is to talk and engage with your kids.
Same. I speak to my 7 year old like an adult. I am so grateful he absorbs everything I tell him and asks questions when he is confused.
Treating our kids like they are imbeciles and feeding them with TV & sugary foods made sense under classic Boomer 9-5 model. It’s outdated.
— Baksht.data™ (@jbaksht) January 25, 2020
‘Baby talk’ might be an annoying sounding way to communicate with babies and toddlers but there is a great reason to engage in it. Rebecca Parlakian, a child development specialist told TODAY Parents that ‘baby talk’ or ‘parentese’ as she calls it, has meaning. “The research on parentese tells us it’s an important way that young babies begin to crack the code of their home languages,” she said. “In fact, one study found that between the age of 6 and 14 months, babies whose parents used more baby talk showed better language skills at 14 months than parents who used less.”
But even for parents like Smith – and my own family – who don’t engage in ‘baby talk’, the mere act of engaging is still critically important. “Whether it’s parentese or not, the most important thing parents can do is use language to connect with their babies and toddlers, to describe the world around them, to ask them questions, and to have a back-and-forth exchange,” Parlakian told TODAY.
So, whichever side of the ‘baby talk’ conversation you find yourself, rest assured that you’re just as right as the parent who disagrees with you. In the end, talking and engaging with your children is incredibly important – ‘baby talk’ or not.