The appeal of baby talk is pretty subjective. Lots of people love their own schmoopsy, but watching someone else whisper goo-goos to their own widdle snugglekins is disgusting.
Unless you’re an actual baby. Studies show that the treacly cadences of baby talk are actually good for infants to hear. “When we talk to our babies from the earliest moment of life--particularly in melodic, high-pitched, and exaggerated tones--we have a profound impact on their cognitive development,” says Dr. Marina Kalashnikova, a researcher in infancy studies and staff scientist at The Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language.
But fathers speak to their babies far less than mothers do. To help rectify this, UNICEF partnered with the H&M Foundation, a charity funded by the founders of the retail chain, to create “Baby Talk for Dads,” an interactive online course to teach fathers how best to speak with their little ones. Exercises developed by Kalashnikova demonstrate using eye contact, mirroring expressions and responding to cues from baby.
A new spot from Edelman Deportivo in Stockholm challenges dads on the street to face their hang-ups and goo and gah away with their kids, though it takes most of them a while to get in the groove. It’s tough to shed decades of indoctrination about what a man should sound like.
Fathers who take the course can share their successes on Instagram with the hashtag #babytalkfordads.