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Importance Of Speaking Sensible Words To Babies

Queen Madalasa taught the supreme truth of Atman and Brahman to her babies. She told them in her lullabies that they were pure, immortal, and not the body and the mind. She did not shy from using the very words of the Upanishads just because they would not be intelligible to her babies. And what happened? All that wisdom was absorbed by her babies, and when they turned adults, they started a spiritual journey, bereft of worldly attachments, to realise their true nature that was told to them by their mother when they could not even speak.

Imagine what would happen if every parent spoke only sensible words to their babies but in parentese, in a manner that their babies would understand!

All babies would learn language abilities at a much faster pace and they would learn everything right the very first time. The possibilities are endless. All that the parent wants as basic values that the baby should adopt, could be taught from the beginning.

One could say: ‘Speeaak the truuuth! Respect your maather!’ It is very important that the right concepts, right words, and right language is communicated to the baby, albeit in a manner she or he would understand. Any kind of fear that is created in the baby’s mind at this stage of life is difficult and sometimes almost impossible to erase. That is why babies should never be traumatised by harshness or by giving fearful ideas. Of course, it requires tremendous patience and meticulous care but that is what takes to create anything worth mention. A bit of care in minding one’s talk to the babies can make all parents proud of brighter children with deep sense of values ingrained in them. 

What do parents generally say to their babies?

When they want to express their love, they say something like ‘bulu, bulu, bulu, bulu, ju, ju, ju, ju, ju’. So, the baby has to hear a large amount of talk that makes no sense to anybody, just because the parents think that is how the babies would understand them. Well, research proves that such a belief is wrong. Baby talk, parentese, motherese, or infant directed speech, is a kind of talk intended to aid language learning of the babies. It should be high pitched, in a sweet tone, and the words should be enunciated slowly, elongating the vowels. It is very important to use the right words for objects and people.

Using sounds like ‘bah-bah’ for some object just because the parent thinks the baby
will not understand the right word is completely wrong and delays the development of the language skills of the child. Imagine if you were learning a new language and the teacher teaches you words that are non-existent in that language, just because the teacher thinks you are not ready for the actual words. How frustrating would that be? That is exactly what happens when most parents use such meaningless words while talking to their babies.

SourceExcerpts from Prabuddha Bharata August 2018 editorial