Personally, I could never bring myself to talk baby talk to children. They are going to need to speak properly if they want to get anywhere in this world, so you may as well start teaching them early. Sure, modify your inflection to sound more enthusiastic and get their attention, keep your sentences short and repeat them as needed, but don’t resort to some creepy pseudo-speech. I can’t even do it with pets.
What sounds even more like nails down a chalkboard to me are those adults who use baby talk with other adults. I can’t stand it. It’s wrong on so many levels.
I used to have a friend who was intelligent, beautiful, and an all-around lovely person. Standing at five foot nothing, she was petite, but she was a dynamo. One of those people who could walk into a room and everyone would stop and stare. All the energy in the world seemed to be attracted to her. It was really kind of annoying, come to think of it.
But what was even more annoying was the fact that she used baby talk in her everyday speech. Despite her intelligence and her many talents, when she opened her mouth, no matter what she was saying, the prevailing message seemed to be, “Take care of me. I’m a widdle bitty wounded bird. I’m weak.” And that message did work on quite a few people. She probably never had to lift a grocery bag or check the oil in her car or open a door in her entire life.
If I had what she had, I’d be leader of the free world. Instead, she diminished herself. She never seemed like the sort who lacked confidence, but her message was that she was broken and needed fixing. I couldn’t understand it. I don’t know if she really saw herself that way, or if that’s just how she was taught to behave, or if she thought it was cute or was just really manipulative, but it used to make me sad.
After she got married to a big, strapping Marine who she liked to call daddy, she worked out 3 hours a day because she was afraid if she got fat she’d lose him. So maybe it was a confidence thing, or a self-esteem thing. Who knows? The only thing I do know is that sometimes I wanted to shake her until her teeth rattled. We’ve since grown apart.
And when I lived in South Florida, I used to take my dogs to a vet who would baby talk, not only to the dogs, but to me and to his staff. It was unnerving and seemed insincere. He was a good vet, and I’m sure he meant well, but I could never get out of there fast enough. Thank heavens my dogs are relatively healthy or I’d have had to look for someone else to take them to. I don’t think my nerves could have taken more than one or two visits per year.
Life is going to send enough adversity your way without you advertising that you’re a conveniently placed victim. You don’t have to act like a wounded fish. The sharks will come along soon enough, believe me. Much better to learn how to punch them in the nose than to offer up your exposed “widdle thwoat.”