Why You Speak to Your Partner in a Baby Voice

Denisa Feathers

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Ever since I can remember being in intimate relationships, I’ve baby talked to my boyfriends. My friends hated it while my partners usually played along depending on their mood.

The general opinion on baby talk is that it’s super annoying and repulsive. Honestly, I can’t fight with you on that one — if I saw the way I act when I’m with my partner from a different person’s point of view, I’d probably want to go, “Yew. Disgusting.”

Yet I do it. Since I’ve recently engaged in it much more often than I would like, though, I decided to do some research on baby talk and why couples do it, especially in private where nobody can see them.

If you’re a bit lost on what baby talk is, NBC News describes it thus:

“Maybe it includes endearing nicknames, exaggerated playful emotions, a shift in tone or demeanor or a jump to a higher octave. Sometimes it consists of affectionate verbal exchanges, sometimes it’s legit coo-ing, and sometimes it sounds like complete gibberish.”

I personally don’t use nicknames, I just straight-out act as a playful cutsie child. It makes me look less intelligent and more innocent, which I’ve always regarded as a huge minus — it seems like I regress when I face a threat, using this cuteness as a shield.

However, I also engage in baby talk when I’m simply comfortable with my partner. It’s difficult to tell if baby talk is a sign of being healthy and comfortable or projecting childhood trauma, which are naturally two complete opposites.

To my surprise, psychology actually regards baby talk as a sign of a healthy and secure relationship. These are some of the reasons why couples might enjoy it.

It reminds us of what it was like to be loved by our parents

The thing with intimate relationships is that they can be a real mess.

When you open yourself up on both a mental and a physical level to the point where you allow yourself to be vulnerable with someone, you breach the gap between an independent adult who can get by just fine on their own and a child who wants to be looked after.

We all carry patterns and feelings that we developed as children within us, and these are mostly established by the bond we had with our parents. If your parent didn’t give you enough love and attention, you’ll most likely feel like you’re never getting enough of it later on in life, which can lead to attention-seeking and self-sabotage (me says hi).

The child you used to be still lives inside of you. When you love someone on a romantic level, it often comes out.

Baby talk allows couples to let this child express itself and to show each other that they’ll care for one another at their most vulnerable. According to Psychology Today, baby talk actually creates biological responses in your body:

“The biochemistry of romantic partnerships replicates our earliest experiences of love and being loved by our parents.”

When couples baby talk, they release dopamine, oxytocin and phenylethylamine, which are all feel-good hormones that lead to bonding and creating secure attachments.

You’re sincerely vulnerable with each other

NBC News quotes a psychologist, Dr. Antonia Hall:

“Baby talk signals closeness, is a method of ‘mirroring’ to evoke positive emotions, and fosters secure attachment with one another. It indicates a desire to nurture your partner and the bond between you two.”

I couldn’t possibly imagine being more vulnerable with my partner than when we both act like children and talk complete gibberish to each other. We laugh and giggle, our voices have higher pitches and I can feel how my body is flooding with love, deep affection and happiness.

To each other, we’re both so freaking cute that it makes me want to melt into him and die in this heaven of innocent playfulness.

If he wanted to hurt me, this would be the best possible moment because of the scale of vulnerability that I’m showing. Yet he doesn’t. And our bond grows stronger because we know we can be fully ourselves without any judgment.

This still doesn’t solve my problem with baby talk, though. Science thinks it’s mostly good for couples, and I’m certainly not going to fight it. However, I do think there might be wrong reasons for using it.

Baby talk opens up a door to regression

Recently, I’ve talked to my boyfriend mostly in baby talk — I’d say about 80% of the time — and it accompanied some relationship issues that came up, for example, the fact that I turn to him with every immediate problem instead of trying to solve it myself.

I feel like when I engage in baby talk too much, it allows me to impersonate that child role to a much deeper extent, which isn’t ultimately healthy for me nor for the relationship. Instead of being silly children together, I am the child more often than not, which gives him no other option but to inhabit the role of a somewhat-parent.

I haven’t found much information on the bad impact of baby talk, apart from the fact that you shouldn’t do it in public unless you want people to roll their eyes at you and run away as fast as possible.

Finally, there was one answer on Quora that struck a chord with me. A former Psychodynamic Counsellor, Jackie Heyworth, answered the question about why people speak in baby talk:

“I think they are regressing back to childhood and seeking an unmet emotional need being met as the adult they are now.”

This rang true. I have many childhood issues I have yet to unpack, and baby talk definitely gives me a way to project them on to my current relationship. The more I engage in it, the more of a child I become, the more the relationship dynamics shift.

The child inside of me is happy to be finally taken care of by such a kind person. The adult growls in frustration, slowly growing smaller.

Obviously, I don’t want that to continue. My partner fell in love with an independent woman, not a child to look after. As much as I love my inner child, she belongs in the past.

The present is for adults only.

So far, I’m trying to find and implement solutions. My partner doesn’t much mind it when I speak in baby talk — it’s other issues he minds — but I know it’s all interconnected. And baby talk is a door that lets all the rubbish from the past fly through, right into the center of my relationship.

The current strategies are:

  • I can only engage in baby talk when we’re being silly or playful together, not during daily tasks.
  • When I use it too much, my partner will tell me to let me know.
  • I will try to give my inner child the love she needs through positive affirmations and sitting with my feelings, while also embracing being an adult.
  • I will remind myself that I am loved and cared for as an adult, not only as a child.

In Conclusion

Baby talk is generally healthy as long as you do it to show vulnerability and strengthen the bond with your partner.

However, if it’s your go-to voice most of the time and it usually accompanies feelings of strong dependence on your partner, comfortable helplessness and laziness to solve problems on your own, it might be a thing worth looking into.

Too much of something is never good. Drinking water is a common piece of advice, yet drinking too much of it is dangerous.

Baby talk is the same. Make sure it doesn’t turn you into an actual baby.

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I'm a student of Languages & Comparative Literature who writes about relationships, self-improvement, lifestyle, books, and more.

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