Science of Love, Sex, and Babies

Why do couples babytalk?

Posted in news by jenapincott on April 6, 2009

diaper-personals-site Several times in the last week, twice on the subway and once in a cafe, I sat near a baby-talking couple spweaking wike dis, in a wery squeaky voice, saying wuv wu oochy-coochie poopy. They were all adults in their mid-twenties to mid-forties. They wore leather jackets, high heels, makeup, suits-and-ties. But they acted as if they were in diapers.

I think terms of endearment — Cupcake, Honey, Tootie, Mochi — are sweet. It’s the bwack-and-forth bwabble that bwothers me a bwit, only because I don’t understand the appeal. Of all forms of role play, infantilizing a boyfriend or husband — talking to him as a little girl would a baby doll — just doesn’t seem romantic or arousing.

Yet psychologists consider lovers’ babytalk a real and valid form of bonding. A study by Meredith Bombar and Lawrence Littig suggests it’s a good sign: Babytalkers were more secure and less avoidant in romantic relationships. In effect they’re reactivating primal circuits of attachment. Ickle-bitty-peshus-wuvy cooing reinforces intimacy, tapping into the unconditional love of a parent for child. The old “play” circuits are also activated; as in any form of fantasy, babytalk allows a couple to step outside the limits of self, space, and time. Stress is reduced — the same reason why a recent study on light S&M found that couples who spank together stay together. Babytalking lovers get a blast of dopamine and oxytocin in areas of the brain involved in reward and bonding — the ventral tegmental area, orbitofrontal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex.

According to psychologists, mutual use of high-pitched voices, soothing whispers, cooing, lisping, and overexpressive faces is a way of “looping” or “mirroring” affection. Exclusive and intimate, it’s an act of trust-building. Think of it as verbal swaddling. Along with the other bonding benefits, babytalk may be a way of flaunting one’s healthy emotional neural circuitry — suggesting not only love and commitment but also strong parental instincts. (Take it to an extreme and more interesting interpretations may be made.)

Psychologists, then, don’t seem troubled by babytalk between lovers. In moderation it’s considered a healthy indulgence. Even so, it’s not my idea of pampering.

6 Responses

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  1. judy said, on April 7, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I’m with you on this. I didn’t even talk to my babies that way!

    I imagine it would be as stress-INducing for me to baby-talk as it is stress REducing for the people who do it. There’s some sort of one size diaper doesn’t fit all joke I want to make here, but I think it’s best I just let it go (being all sort of grown up like I am).

    I’m always learning at your blog!πŸ˜‰

  2. […] Why couples babytalk β€” bonding with an infant and bonding with a mate β€” not […]

  3. Hi, good post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for writing. I will definitely be coming back to your site.

  4. unseenstrings said, on May 3, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I talk to my Chihuahuas in a form of baby-talk. It is an effective way to tap into their emotions; and they recognize certain words, such as my brother’s name and the name of the park I usually take them to. The words are not babble but the pitch and emotional expressions (including facial gestures) are much different than normal conversation. In fact, I usually look over my shoulder to make sure no one is around before I “baby-talk” to my babies (Chihuahuas).

  5. ClubDiapers said, on December 22, 2009 at 4:13 am

    Photo copyright ClubDiapers

  6. Corpse said, on February 9, 2010 at 2:43 am

    And the posts keep getting better…

    @judy
    110% True. Most men may not actually talk like this but they do prefer girls that act childish…ones that r full of life n not afraid to express their feelings without ne worries…it’s kind of a proven thing. Not all men like girls who just keep their trap shut and do whatever they r told to do…guys actually have emotions, but try thier best to hide’emπŸ˜€


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