The surprising science behind 'baby talk' in relationships.

"Hi cutie-patootie, do you want me to pick up something yummy for din-dins?"

A sentence like this sends immediate shivers down my spine. That's the exact effect 'baby talk' has on me. 

Whether you've been on the receiving end of some baby talk in a relationship or you've let slip a little "I wuv you" from time to time, baby talk between partners is definitely a contentious issue. 

But like many relationship quirks, there's often a reason behind why we are the way we are. 

So I spoke to Dr Jessica Wade, a specialist in sexual health and well-being, to find out more about why people use baby talk in relationships and why others have such a hard time swallowing it.

Watch: Relationship red flags. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

Despite baby talk copping quite a bit of flack for being cringey, Dr Wade says this behaviour can actually be the result of a healthy connection between two partners.

"This behaviour often involves the use of simplified language, playful tones, and endearing nicknames, creating an environment of shared affection and closeness between partners," says Dr Wade. 


"Some research suggests that upwards of two-thirds of adult couples engage in baby talk. The psychology behind baby talk being a sign of security within the relationship is derived from attachment theory."

I am shocked, but it makes sense that couples can fall into this behaviour when they're feeling super secure in the relationship. 

"I like to think of it in pretty simple terms...we are connecting back to our first ever secure attachment - 'mother and child' or 'infant and caregiver'; the speech pattern in infancy that was soothing and nurturing for us," says Dr Wade. 

"I find most couples engage in some form of baby talk, whether it be calling each other pet names like 'sugar plum' 'sweet pea' even 'babe' and 'baby' to a full on conversation in the high pitched, hyper articulated vowels style of speech."

When you break down the research, we can see that a penchant for baby talk actually comes from a really positive place. 

So, why does it get under some people's skin so much? 

"The aversion to baby talk could be conditioned by personal experiences, societal norms, or communication styles learned throughout life," says Dr Wade.

So if you find yourself in the category where baby talk makes you want to run for the hills, Dr Wade says there are some avenues you can explore in order to get on the same page as your partner. 


"If someone finds their partner's use of baby talk uncomfortable, effective communication becomes crucial," says Dr Wade. 

Some effective approaches Dr Wade suggests trying include: 

  • Expressing one's feelings without blaming or criticising. Using "I" statements. Instead of saying, "You always talk to me like a baby, and I don't like it," try saying, "I feel more comfortable when you talk to me without the baby-like voice; can we find a middle ground?"
  • Establishing when and where it can be used. "Often I find people don't like it when out and about, but it might be ok when at home in privacy or even a turn on in the bedroom," Dr Wade says. 
  • Discussion of relationship expectations, and communication styles. 

"It's important to approach the conversation with empathy and an understanding of each other's communication needs," says Dr Wade.

"Exploring alternative ways to express affection and closeness that align with both partners' preferences is important. Couples may discover new ways to connect emotionally while respecting each other's comfort zones."

At the end of the day, the use of baby talk in a relationship all boils down to personal preference.

"Despite its potential positive undercurrent, opinions on baby talk in relationships vary," says Dr Wade. 

"Some people can find it endearing while others find it quite off-putting. The question of whether using baby talk is a negative trait depends on individual preferences and the dynamics of the relationship. What might be perceived as charming and affectionate by one person may be viewed as annoying or insincere and childish by another."

So good luck to all you "wittle sweetie pies" out there! 

Feature Image: Getty.

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