Why do we raise our voice pitch when we speak to babies?

22nd July 2009

Asked by: Dan Bradshaw, Cheltenham

Baby talk or 'motherese' is nearly universal in human cultures and also found in Rhesus monkeys. It is characterised by generally higher pitch, greater pitch variation and a more musical rhythm and tone. Research has suggested that this exaggerated emphasis may help infants learn the sound patterns to develop speech or increase attention when parents are warning of dangers.