Dad's post about 'baby talk' sparks heated conversation on Twitter

The important thing, says an expert, is to talk to your kids.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Terri Peters

A Wisconsin father of two has sparked a Twitter debate after he posted that he and his wife speak only in sentences to their two children.

"My wife and I never baby talk to our kids," writer Adam Smith said in his tweet. "We use full sentences and a wide vocabulary including complex words."

Smith goes on to explain the success he's found with his parenting methods, saying his 3-year-old can carry on full conversations and his daughter, not yet 2, speaks in multi-syllable words. In his comments beneath his initial tweet, Smith goes on to encourage homeschooling and calls public schools, "a meat grinder where many die."

Smith's comments have gone viral on Twitter, and in the comment thread below his tweet, the internet is having a blast adding their own two cents.

"My son is also 3 and we never baby talk to him either," wrote one Twitter user. "I use full sentences and a wide range of movie quotes. Adults at family gatherings are shocked that his name is Inigo Montoya, they killed his father, and they should prepare to die."

"I'll have you know my 3 year-old son graduated top of his class in the Navy Seals, and he's been involved in numerous secret raids on Al-Qaeda, with over 300 confirmed kills," joked another. "At family gatherings adults are shocked that he is the top sniper in the entire U.S. armed forces."

Another wrote, "That's NOTHING. My two year old has already RETIRED from making a killing on the stock market. And that was after his film career. As a control, we baby talked to his elder sister and she's a disaster. She only speaks four languages. What a dumbo."

But, all joking aside, what is "baby talk?" And when it comes to speaking to small children, is one method better than another?

"Baby talk" is called "parentese" in the research world, and is the way most adults naturally engage with babies, said Rebecca Parlakian, a child development specialist and the senior program director at Zero to Three, an organization that works with babies and toddlers.

"It's speaking more slowly, with exaggerated vowels, and a melodic intonation," Parlakian told TODAY Parents. "The research on parentese tells us it's an important way that young babies begin to crack the code of their home languages. In fact, one study found that between the age of 6 and 14 months, babies whose parents used more baby talk showed better language skills at 14 months than parents who used less."

At the end of the day, there's no need for parents to stress over how they talk to their babies.

"Whether it’s parentese or not, the most important thing parents can do is use language to connect with their babies and toddlers, to describe the world around them, to ask them questions, and to have a back-and-forth exchange," said Parlakian. "That is — hands down — the best way to help little ones learn to talk."