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When Preschoolers Talk Like Babies

Sometimes 3- and 4-year-olds seem to backslide and talk more like their 2-year-old sibs. What gives?

Often, as a younger brother or sister hits milestones and gets praise from parents, older kids mimic them for attention. Others use babyish language when they're feeling insecure around new people or about a change in routine (school's out, camp's starting). What to do, whatever the cause:

Be tolerant. Focus on what she says instead of how she says it. If she says, "Me going," respond with, "I'm going."

Be calm but direct. Say, "It's hard to understand you when you don't use your four-year-old voice."

Be generous with praise when she speaks like a big girl.

If the baby talk lasts longer than a few weeks or if words disappear completely, talk to your pediatrician to make sure your child's language development is on target.