Everyone knows that Ms. Rachel is immensely popular with babies; her happy songs, smiley expressions, and sing-song voice are impossible to forget. And it turns out that she might be on to something, because her cadence of speech, as annoying as it might be to parents, actually helps babies learn to talk. 

In a TikTok post, music therapist Vered Benhorin explains why parents might want to give it a go.

@babyintune

#stitch with @funny_baby4334 You have full permission to sound like @Ms Rachel even if you never thought you would. #msrachel #msrachelsongforlittes #msrachelbaby #cutebaby #parentingtips #motherese

♬ original sound – Vered, MTBC – Baby in Tune
 

“One of the reasons babies love Miss Rachel so much is because she speaks in an extreme kind of mother-ease or parents-ease. She starts low with her voice, goes high, and then down. I know you promised yourself you would never use that voice before you had a baby. But you know what? Your baby does love it,” she says.

Benhorin goes on to mention that research has shown that babies learn language sooner when parents use that sing-song voice. Though they’re not yet able to fully process phonetic sounds (a.k.a. the alphabet), “rhythmic speak emphasizes the boundaries of individual words,” explains Usha Goswami, a Cambridge neuroscientist and the lead of one such study.

“Infants can use rhythmic information like a scaffold or skeleton to add phonetic information on to. For example, they might learn that the rhythm pattern of English words is typically strong-weak, as in ‘daddy’ or ‘mummy,’ with the stress on the first syllable. They can use this rhythm pattern to guess where one word ends and another begins when listening to natural speech,” she adds. Note that this is entirely different from “baby talk,” where people use cutesy nonsense words and mimic sounds made by babies, like “baba” instead of “bottle.” This actually works against language development.

Goswami further explained how universal the findings were in an interview with the BBC: “We’ve looked at how mums talk to babies in different languages, and unconsciously, they’re exaggerating a rhythm pattern of around 120 beats a minute…we measured the brain response from 2 months, and it was always strongest to speech at that rhythm.”

Babies everywhere can’t be wrong. So ignore that thing you swore you’d never do and embrace the tone and cadence of Ms. Rachel. Your little one will thank you! 

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