When Your Baby Begins to Talk and Only You Understand Him

When Your Baby Begins to Talk and Only You Understand Him
Valeria Sabater

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Written by Valeria Sabater

Last update: 22 December, 2021

The love a mother and father have for their baby is expressed in the most amazing ways. The connection between them is so intimate that their own emotions guide them and help them understand their little one’s babbles. Parents are the translators during that first strange and fascinating period in which their baby begins to talk for the first time.

We’re positive that on more than one occasion, you’ve experienced the following: you’re out with friends and family and suddenly your baby begins to gurgle and to emit random sounds very emphatically. Soon, everyone asks, between laughs, what your baby is saying.

What a child can do today with help, he’ll be able to do tomorrow by himself.

-Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky-

Then, without really knowing how, you naturally act as a translator, effectively interpreting those sounds, gestures, shouts and babble. Whether you believe it or not, you know what your child says because you know him, you read his gestures, and you understand his emotions, looks and intentions.

Together you have created a small universe of signs and language where nothing escapes you and where, in turn, you act as a guide so that those sounds are slowly articulated into words, coherent phrases that will shape and build a valid and effective language that will connect the baby with his world.

It’s a fabulous task that has undoubtedly curious origins…

Your baby begins to talk thanks to “mom’s dialect”

when your baby begins to talk

Jenn Berman, a family psychotherapist and expert in communication and parenting dynamics, recently wrote an interesting book called “Super Baby,” published by Everest. In this book she explains something both unique and amazing: that moms easily know how to communicate with their babies.

  • Experts differentiate between “baby talk” and “mom’s dialect.”
  • When we talk to a small child who doesn’t know how to speak, most of us do it through that baby language where there are plenty of syllabic repetitions, such as “ta-ta-ta” or “gu-gu”…
  • Whether or not we believe this kind of communication is childish and cheesy, it is not as useful as the communication used by the mother or father who spend enough time with the baby to instinctively know how to communicate with him.
  • The “mom’s dialect” (or “dad’s dialect”) uses normal communication but with a keen tone and slower speech.
  • They naturally model the language, placing special emphasis on the inflection and making use of real communication where it is not limited to the repetition of monosyllables.
  • They use a tone of voice adjusted to the baby’s hearing ability, and they also pronounce things in an exaggerated way so that the baby can discriminate sounds.

Mom understands me: emotional bonding

a mom holding her baby

There are those who limit themselves to talking about the maternal instinct and the hormonal explosion that almost magically seems to transform a woman into a mother.

However, emotional bonding does not come automatically just by giving birth. It is something deeper, something that, in fact, also arises without needing to be pregnant.

A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.

– Victor Hugo-

I understand you because you form part of my heart

Sometimes, just by sharing a look with your child, you know whether he is scared, hungry or some discomfort that you do not hesitate to attend to and resolve.

The maternal and paternal instinct arises from daily contact, from closeness, from sleepless nights, from the character we see in the baby, and by his preferences, reactions and needs…

All of this is going to be reflected sooner or later in his babbling, gurgles or sounds that come out when he gets excited to have his favorite toy, when he wants you to touch it or to get a different one…

The baby’s communication arises not only by imitation but also by the emotional interactions that you offer and understand …

mom holding baby drawing

Sounds full of emotion

Every babble, sob, cry of emotion or the first utterance of “mom” or “dad” comes from the whisper of emotion that occurs in a facilitating environment.

  • The more stimuli and reinforcements, the more positive emotions and the more effective communication will be. However, we should not obsess about the possible slowness of our child’s speech: each child has his time, and each child follows a rhythm in his maturation process.
  • What we need first and foremost is love, to continually provide confidence and tranquility based on a constant and quiet yet stimulating communication.

Mom always understands and will understand her little one. Dad will always be there as a translator as well, because both are the best channels to facilitate increasingly skillful and successful communication in the child.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bowlby, J. (1986). Vínculos afectivos: formación, desarrollo y pérdida. Madrid: Morata.
  • Bowlby, J. (1995). Teoría del apego. Lebovici, Weil-HalpernF.
  • Garrido-Rojas, L. (2006). Apego, emoción y regulación emocional. Implicaciones para la salud. Revista latinoamericana de psicología, 38(3), 493-507. https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/805/80538304.pdf
  • Marrone, M., Diamond, N., Juri, L., & Bleichmar, H. (2001). La teoría del apego: un enfoque actual. Madrid: Psimática.
  • Moneta, M. (2003). El Apego. Aspectos clínicos y psicobiológicos de la díada madre-hijo. Santiago: Cuatro Vientos.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.