DEAR ABBY: I am writing regarding your answer to "Julie in Spring, Texas," who asked you when parents should stop using baby talk with their children. I disagree with you. She said her son had just turned 3! He is still a baby. Many children are still in diapers at that age. Let the mother enjoy her young son while she still has the time. -- LINDA T., CLEARWATER, FLA.
DEAR LINDA T.: Intelligent minds may disagree. But according to the mail I received regarding that letter, you are in the minority. I stand by my reply. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My advice as a pediatrician is to stop baby talk the day the baby is born -- that is to say, never start!
Babies learn at a surprisingly early age to assimilate what they hear into their later speech patterns; they learn to "talk" what they hear, and "baby talk" is not the language we want them to use. Yes, talk softly, talk sweetly, sing to your baby -- but use the words of proper language. -- LEE BERNSTEIN, M.D., LAS VEGAS, NEV.
DEAR ABBY: As a retired public school speech therapist, allow me to respond to "Julie's" question. Language development is one of the most important aspects of a child's life. A child begins to acquire language almost as soon as he starts hearing it. Vocabulary is not the only component of speech. Inflection, tone, grammar, etc. contribute to a person's ability to communicate effectively. Talking "baby talk" to an infant can delay the process of language development. Vocabulary should be age-appropriate but still within acceptable speech patterns. -- LILLIAN A., N. MIAMI BEACH
DEAR ABBY: When our daughter was born, my husband and I agreed there would be no baby talk. When my maternity leave was over and we put her in day care, I asked the providers not to use baby talk with her. I wanted her to grasp how words sounded and use them correctly.
She turned 3 last month, and can use the words "decide" and "separate" correctly. She knew her ABCs by 18 months and can count to 10 in English and Spanish, and on to 20 only in English. She is very articulate, and most people think she is at least 5. Please urge that mother to use "big boy/girl" words with her child. It will help her child to articulate what he/she wants to say, and everyone will understand what the child is trying to communicate. -- JEANNE J., CRESTVIEW, FLA.
DEAR ABBY: Research has shown that children who are spoken to as "adults," using complete sentences, not only learn faster, but have a better comprehension of the English language than children whose parents use baby talk. Studies have also shown that children who are read to, even before birth, also develop more rapidly. -- JUSTIN F., AMERICAN MILITARY (DEPLOYED)
DEAR ABBY: Because my dad and stepmother used baby talk with my 8-year-old brother for so long, he is now in speech therapy to learn proper English. He still uses phrases like "Me love you" because they thought it was "cute" and never corrected him. Using baby talk is a disservice to a child. Speaking to children correctly helps them become credible later in life. -- JULIA IN OGDEN, UTAH
DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine once retorted to a woman in a restaurant who asked her if she always spoke to her child like he was a rocket scientist, "Of course! How else can I expect him to grow up to be one?" -- PLAIN-SPEAKING FATHER OF FOUR IN MINNESOTA