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Woman Called Out For Refusing To Use ‘Baby Talk’ When Speaking To Her 3-Year-Old Niece

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Baby talk is one of those subjects that can lead to heated debates between parents and caregivers.

In addition to debates about how baby talk can impact a child’s development, some people are just uncomfortable with it, confided the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor throwawaybabysister was a mom of a toddler who firmly believed in the use of baby talk with her child.

But when a conversation about this potentially impacted her babysitting options, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she should have brought this subject up with her sister.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for getting mad at my sister for not using baby talk when she speaks to my daughter?”

The OP was concerned by her sister’s relationship with her daughter.

“My (28 Female) sister (31 Female) looks after my daughter maybe once a month or so.”

“She’s kind of me and my husband’s backup-backup-babysitter since she’s not really a kid person.”

“I know she loves and cares for her niece, but one thing that’s always bothered me is that she speaks to my daughter like an adult. She doesn’t baby talk with her at all.”

The OP brought her concerns up with her sister.

“I brought it up with her this weekend that it bothers me, but she brushed me off, saying she’s treating her like a person.”

“She speaks to her cats in a baby voice all the time, and when I mentioned this, she told me her cats are never learning how to speak, so it doesn’t matter for them.”

“I feel like she’s dismissing my feelings as a mother and is prioritizes her cats over her niece.”

The conversation may have impacted future babysitting.

“She thinks I’m being crazy and said that if I feel that strongly about it, I should find a different babysitter.”

“My husband thinks that I should have dropped the subject, because now we don’t have an emergency babysitter if we need one.”

“So, AITA for getting mad at my sister for not using baby talk when she speaks to my daughter?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some thought there was a time and place for baby talk, and three years old wasn’t it.

“THE CHILD IS 3??? OP already done f**ked up real good. She’s lucky her sister has stuck around so the poor kid (hopefully) doesn’t go into grade one asking if mommy teachwer can give her a widdle back wub and snug snug, pwease??? Also I did a boomboom in my diapey.”

“I live in an area with a lot of dogs, several know and love me and I baby talk their little fur faces off.”

“I also love my nieces and nephews 1000x more, but even though the oldest is 4 and the youngest is a little baby, I speak to them like human beings, because they are.”

“I would have eye-rolled myself half to death if this was an infant but THREE??????? maybe I can’t visit this sub anymore for my own health, because most of TAs are also morons and raise my BP (blood pressure).” – B***hshortage

“At three my daughter could order her own meal perfectly in any restaurant. I’ve never used baby talk and she was using full sentences at 18 months.” – Divine_Mind257

“I was born in the 1970s. My mom never allowed baby talk with me and my sister. I was one or two years old and speaking in complete, coherent sentences. In school, I was placed in advanced reading/English groups.”

“This is so important. Baby talk is not okay.” – blackcrowblue

“Baby talk is helpful and beneficial to babies who are learning a language because when we use it, we make simple, easily repeated sounds that are clearly enunciated.”

“It has a time and place, however, and shouldn’t be used once your kid starts forming sentences – or at least should be modified according to the next step of language development your child has to reach.”

“By baby talk, I mean the high-pitched, ‘Who’s going to nap? Baby’s going to nap!’ and not replying, ‘goo-goo gaga’ to your child’s babbling, obviously.” – MeropeRedpath

“Holy s**t, the kid is THREE? Three-year-olds aren’t babies, they’re full-on toddlers and entering regular childhood.”

“My three-year-old cousins have spoken in full sentences for at least a year, and they’ve understood full sentences much longer than that. When their sister was three, she absolutely knew when our grandmother thought her mispronunciations were ‘cute’ and got frustrated when she felt mocked.”

“It is appropriate to talk to a toddler a little bit slower, or with slightly exaggerated pitch and expression, because they are still learning to communicate verbally. It is not appropriate to talk to them like a baby.” – palacesofparagraphs

“YTA nothing wrong with not using baby talk. Kids learn how to say words properly a lot faster when you don’t use baby talk like ‘ba ba’ instead of ‘bottle.'”

“People often commented on my toddler’s vocabulary. That’s because I spoke to them in a normal voice using my normal vocabulary.”

“You are picking on a very petty issue. If it bothers you that much, find another sitter.” – sawta2112

“Baby talk has been shown to be detrimental to babies when it comes to learning how to properly speak. She’s not prioritizing her cats over your daughter by using baby talk with them and not a child who is developing her speech skills.”

“You’re not an a**hole for wanting your daughter raised your way, but maybe figure out if this was worth being your hill to die on.” – GothPenguin

Others agreed and said the OP had done her daughter a huge disservice. 

“My mother babytalked my little brother for waaaay too long. Now it’s permanent in him.”

“He has nothing physically wrong with his mouth; she had him checked. He just learned to form sounds as she taught him.”

“Then when he didn’t grow out of it, she was angry with him. Yaaay, my mom with a personality disorder.”

“I feel like this woman would do the same.” – EmEmPeriwinkle

“My grandson is the youngest of 4. He is 1 and can speak in complete sentences.”

“She is doing a huge disservice to her daughter.” – nonaof4

“I had a friend who had a baby 2 days after I had my daughter. She and her husband constantly spoke baby talk to their baby boy, while I spoke to my daughter like a person.”

“My daughter was articulate and well-spoken by the time she got to school and her son spent the first 3 years of school in speech therapy.”

“There are most definitely ramifications for talking to babies and children like they’re idiots.” – MoveOolong72

“While I did some baby talk with my daughter, as every parent does, I mostly talked to her like a normal adult, plus taught her sign language from birth so that she could communicate more easily before she had the verbal skills to do so.”

“It worked amazingly well!”

“I would do the sign and say the word for the object or action and she understood it at a very young age. I carried this out into errands like grocery shopping. When she was a toddler, I would ask her to go get me an apple and make the sign. She’d bring an apple back and tell me what it was, both by sign and verbally.”

“Her preschool teacher told me at the 2nd quarter conference that they had nothing else to teach or challenge her with because I’d already taught her everything at home.”

“When I mentioned that she knew sign language, the teacher’s eyes got big. One of the TAs also knew ASL, so they made that my daughter’s new challenge.”

“My daughter was also speaking small words at 6 months.”

“Baby talk does way too much harm to a growing child.” – ShanG01

Some entertained the idea of talking to a toddler like they would a pet.

“YTA your daughter is a human and should be spoken to like one. Cats are not human and so can be toyed with. You just got mad at your sister for treating your child with more respect than her pets.” – EffectivePapaya1936

“She said, ‘Talk to my daughter the way you would talk to animals!'”

“Me, being the smart-a** that I am, ‘Ok. Does niece gotta go outside and go potty?? Go poopy here! Good girl! Where’s your squeaky bone?? GO GET YOUR SQUEAKY FOR PLAY!!'” – SeonaidMacSaicais

“OP would rightfully report me to CPS if I talked to a kid the way I talk to the pets.”

“‘Oh my god, you dumb a**hole, get the f**k down from there! Did your last brain cell fall out? Don’t eat the plastic, you colossal moron! You’re lucky you’re pretty.'” – freeeeels

The subReddit struggled to sympathize with this one, as they could see the benefit in what the sister was doing by speaking to her niece like a young human, rather than as a baby.

Perhaps the OP wanted her daughter to have more attention than she was getting, or perhaps she thought her sister had more enthusiastic interactions with her cats than with her child, but in the long run, speaking to her like a person would benefit her, even if it didn’t sound as cute.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.