Now that your older child is in Primary school you are probably a little relieved that there are no more dirty diapers to change or milk bottles to sterilise.
But what if your big kid still talks like a baby or suddenly starts to baby talk once again?
Instead of forming full sentences, she’s kicking up a fuss like when she was a tantrum-prone threenager and using words like “yum yum” instead of saying “food“, or mispronouncing words like, “twertle” when it’s supposed to be “turtle“.
Sure, baby talk was cute back when she was a toddler, but now that she’s a Primary school student and maybe even preparing for PSLE, this strange habit is probably not something most parents would want to encourage.
So is it normal behaviour for your child’s speech to regress and should you be concerned?
Is your older child suddenly talking (and maybe even acting) like a baby again?
Reasons why your child talks like a baby
Does your child act developmentally younger than her actual age and even slips back to old behaviours that she’s already grown out of such as sucking her thumb, wanting to use a pacifier, throwing temper tantrums or she talks like a baby?
This is called regression and although is not uncommon in children, it might be a developmental red flag that parents should watch out for.
If you notice this behaviour in your toddler or your big kid, it is important that you try to identify the reason behind the regression which can include:
Influence from others
Children learn a lot by observing and copying those around them, especially adults such as their parents, teachers or caregivers.
It is possible that your child could have picked up this baby talking habit from a friend, her favourite cartoon characters, a younger sibling, or even by hearing it from you.
Has there been a big change in your child’s life? Like moving to a new neighbourhood away from all her old friends, academic pressure of an upcoming exam in school, the addition of a new baby — or even a traumatic event such as being involved in an accident or a death in the family?
Your child might try to cope with these stressful events by displaying regressive behaviour as a way of reliving the “simpler times” back when she was a happy little baby without a care in the world.
When your big kid talks like a baby, he or she might be trying to seek some attention from you
Your child might use baby talk as a way of getting your attention so that you can fuss over her or tend to her needs.
Now that your kid is bigger and no longer needs you to spoon feed her during meal times or wipe her bum after she’s done on the toilet, she may just miss all the times you were there for her and helped her with certain things.
She might have also noticed that when she talks like a baby or starts to act up, you will quickly run to her side and cater to her needs (even if it’s just because you want the whining to stop!).
Another possible reason as to why your big kid still talks like a baby could be that she has a developmental delay or a medical issue such as:
If you are worried about your child’s development, it is highly recommended that you bring her for a professional evaluation and get some medical advice.
What can you do stop the baby talk?
If your child does not have any developmental delays and does not require speech therapy, here are some simple ways you can encourage her to drop the baby talk:
Encourage and only respond to “big kid” talk
Be patient and don’t give in to your child’s demands when she talks like a baby. Tell her you don’t understand baby talk and respond to her only when she speaks appropriately for her age.
Encourage her to use correct words and sentences such as “I want to eat“, instead of baby talk like “I want mum-mum“.
Speak to her in full sentences and use proper words so as to help expand her vocabulary and ensure that she doesn’t slip back to baby talking.
Give your child some positive attention and just ignore the baby talk
Keep consistent routines
Children do well when they have consistent routines as it gives them a sense of security, increases self-confidence, encourages independence, fosters responsibility and minimises power struggles.
When your child has a daily routine she is familiar with, this gives her assurance and makes her feel in control of her life as she knows what to expect at certain times of the day.
This is especially important if there has been any major changes recently such as moving to a new school, having a new domestic helper, or parents getting divorced.
Increase the TLC
Do not punish or berate your child when she talks like a baby because she could just be craving for some affection from you.
If you just had another baby and your older child is still adjusting to having a younger sibling, then she might feel a little jealous of the undivided attention the new little one is receiving.
Or maybe you’ve been so busy at work lately and haven’t had the opportunity to interact much with your child, so she just misses all the fun times you used to share together?
Set aside some time to spend with your child and shower her with some extra love and she might just snap out of her baby talking habit!
Let child know that there are many great things she can do as a big kid!
Teach new skills
If your child is bored and needs more stimulation, this can make her act out and maybe even behave like a baby as she does not feel challenged enough.
Let her learn new skills that are age-appropriate or encourage her to pick up a new hobby that will keep her happy and occupied.
You can even get her involved in more responsible tasks such as helping you cook the family meals, or lending a hand to take care of a younger sibling.
Celebrate the positive side of being a big kid
We all want to turn back the clock at one point in our lives and relive the “good old days”, but highlight to your child about all the wonderful things she is able to do now that she is older and no longer a helpless baby.
For example, she is tall enough to ride on a roller coaster at the amusement park, or she is mature enough to take the bus to school all by herself in the morning, or that she’s allowed to go for fun sleepovers at her friend’s house over the weekends.
Tell her that it might seem nice to be a small baby and have everyone do things for you, but being a big kid is great too and she should look forward to many more exciting adventures ahead!