Baby talk can be cute when your baby is first figuring out how to sound out words — but not so much in an older child.
It can be really irritating when your eight-year-old, or even 10-year-old, child speaks like a baby. Here’s why kids occasionally talk like babies, as well as strategies and ideas for dealing with it when your big kid reverts to baby talk.
To begin, rule out health issues. If this is a regression in the sense that your child was speaking well a few months ago but their speech is becoming more difficult to understand, you may want to consult with your doctor to rule out a hearing issue or some other explanation. If the baby talk is accompanied by other regression behaviours such as bed-wetting or other indicators of worry, you should consult a specialist to see if the baby talk is a sign of trauma or mental health difficulties.
Some children attempt to use baby language to appear ‘sweet and innocent’ and thus attract the favourable attention associated with it. While the baby babble itself is unpleasant, the request for attention is genuine. You don’t have to reinforce the baby talk with praise and snuggles but search for other opportunities to give that additional embrace or a few extra minutes to converse.
When a child is experiencing a life shift, such as the arrival of a new sibling, the start of a new school year, or simply a growth phase in which they can sense that they are growing and learning more skills for independence, they may begin to use baby talk. Talk to your child about issues and changes that may be bothering them and offer lots of reassurance that you’ll be there to help them through any challenges or changes that may be worrying them.
Sometimes children use baby talk to try to persuade their parents that they are incapable of completing a tough task. A six-year-old, for example, might stand next to the buffet at a family gathering and say, “Me want food,” because they are afraid of serving themselves. Teach your child a better method to address the situation in this circumstance by encouraging them to ask for help if they need it.