I've never been one for baby talk. I just never had it in me to take on that high-pitched, ultra-gaga tone. Oh, I can spew nonsense, but in my own natural voice. Before becoming a father five months ago, I pledged never to participate in "How big is baby?" and similar infant games.
What a stupid jerk I was. It didn't take long for me to realize that baby talk doesn't really fulfill any need in the parent; babies simply respond to high-pitched goofiness. And as soon as she smiles and laughs at it once, that's it. You're forever a baby talker. And you wear the badge proudly.
I've started to notice and record patterns in our baby talk, patterns I've also noticed in other parents' speech, which might suggest that we're hard-wired to speak this way. For example, most things are repeated, with the second instance always higher-pitched than the first, a bit more inflected, and stretched at the end. "Do you want your fluffy frog? Do you want your flu-ffy frog?" That sort of thing. And, though we named her Tess, we never call her that while baby-talking. She's Milk Breath, Milky, Dairy Queen, Chunk, Chunkster, Chunksteroonie McFatty, Boogie Nose, Cutie Patootie, Miss Fuss, Das Füssmeister, Faucet Face, Tax Cut, Destroyer of Productivity, Stain Maker, Mustard Butt, and Explodie, but Tess in introductions only. There must be some science to all this, but I haven't found any yet in our short stack of baby manuals.
One thing I'm sure of, however, is that as this little one learns, she does a whole lot of teaching.