4 Reasons Why Baby Talk Is Good for Couples
Baby talk may seem annoying, but does it actually have benefits?
Posted May 19, 2019
Baby talk triggers mixed emotions in people. Baby talking towards babies or pets seems perfectly appropriate to most observers. Meanwhile, baby talking among grown adults may evoke disgust. Accordingly, in 2009, Saturday Night Live ridiculed baby talk with the skit “Girlfriend Voice." Yet, more recently, a speech pattern dubbed “sexy baby voice” has taken over the U.S. To use “sexy baby voice," women adopt a high-pitched tone and emulate the speech cadence of a young girl.
To outsiders, such speech patterns are often bewildering. Why would anyone want to emulate an incompetent, helpless baby? Researchers suggest that baby talk has evolutionary origins, as it is observed across cultures. Specifically, baby talk may serve as a way to deepen emotional bonds between parents and their babies. Given that a similar attachment process functions among adults, it is no surprise that 75 percent of adults report having baby talked before to a friend or romantic partner.
But is baby talk actually beneficial for adult relationships? Might it seem, perhaps, patronizing?
Although research on this topic is fairly scarce, evidence thus far indicates that baby talk is a perfectly healthy behavior that benefits romantic relationships. Following are four reasons why baby talk is good for couples.
1. Baby talkers are more securely attached and are happier in their relationships.
In one study, researchers surveyed participants on baby talk, defining baby talk based on features such as the use of a high pitch, high clarity, and a nurturing intonation. They found that participants who baby talked were more securely attached (feeling comfortable with being close with their partners) and less avoidantly attached (feeling a desire to distance themselves from their partners). Baby talk also predicted greater relationship quality (e.g., relationship satisfaction, love, sexual involvement).
Interestingly, baby talk peaked at the formation of a relationship, further supporting that baby talking may be crucial in strengthening emotional bonds. Therefore, couples who want to feel closer may want to try baby talking!
2. Pet names may bring couples closer to one another.
Pet names, like “cupcake," “sweetie pie," and “honey bun” are another hallmark of baby talk. Researchers examined the use of pet names among 154 married couples in various stages of their marriages, finding that the newest couples had the most pet names for one another. In fact, the newest couples had over twice as many pet names than the couples who had been together the longest. Importantly, using pet names predicted greater relationship satisfaction for both husbands and wives. In conclusion, although they may seem silly, pet names may serve an important function, forging a loving bond between two people.
3. Baby talking may make us cute and help us elicit the affection we desire.
As we grow older, most of us lose the neotenous features, like oversized heads, round eyes, and chubby cheeks, that make us so endearing to others. We still have the ability, however, to act cute to elicit powerful care-taking instincts from our loved ones. Scholars point out that we often view baby-like behaviors, like clumsiness, as adorable and endearing in our lovers. Additionally, adults cite the motivations to be playful, affectionate, and vulnerable as the reasons for their baby talk. Baby talk, then, may draw out loving feelings from our partners even when we’ve far outgrown our cute phases.
4. Baby talking makes men seem more loyal.
There’s another reason why baby talking might be good—for men at least, and why men may use the “girlfriend voice.” While women have been found to be more attracted to deeper voices, they perceive men with deeper voices as more likely to cheat. Baby talk, with its higher pitched tone, may then be soothing for women who are craving reassurance of their (male) partner’s fidelity.
In conclusion, couples should not let outside opinions dissuade them from baby talking. Although baby talk may annoy outsiders, for a couple, it appears to serve the important functions of establishing a close bond, eliciting affection, and keeping the couple securely in love.
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