September 04, 2019
Mothers who have a poor relationship with their male partners spend more time talking to their babies – but only if those babies are boys. 
Mums Unhappy With Their Male Partners Talk More To Their Babies – But Only If Theyre Boys
Scientists from the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Family Research studied 93 families – all first-time, heterosexual parents.
They interviewed them about the quality of their romantic relationship, and fitted their babies with “talk pedometers” – devices that recorded everything the children’s parents said to them, for a full day at home with both parents. 
The actual content of what was said wasn’t analysed – but the amount of words, and who spoke them, was. Researchers found a correlation between how dissatisfied a couple were in their relationship and how much the mother spoke directly to her infant.
Mothers who said the quality of their relationship was low spoke 35% more words, and began 20% more conversations with their children than those who said they were in an average relationship. However, this only applied with male children.Related... Talking To Your Newborn Baby Might Feel Weird – But This Is Why It Matters Why? Well, the researchers speculate it might be a substitution thing, with a baby boy partly taking the place of a mother’s less-than-satisfying partner.
“It’s possible that the mum is trying to compensate for the poor relationship she has with her partner by putting more time and effort into her relationship with her other close male social partner, her son,” said lead author Dr Elian Fink.
“What is particularly interesting is that mums only seem to compensate when they have infant sons, not daughters. It could be that mothers view their daughters as mini versions of themselves rather than of their partners.”
Fathers were found to talk to their babies significantly less than mothers, regardless of the perceived quality of the mother-father relationship. Fink suggests this could be due to an ongoing childcare imbalance, with mothers shouldering the bulk of nappy-changes and other one-on-one care tasks. 
Talking both to and around babies is key to their verbal and emotional development. A 2018 study at the University of Washington found that talking directly to your child, especially if using ‘parentese’ – slow, clear speech – boosted their language-processing skills significantly.
“Finding time to talk to children is very important,” added Dr Fink. “Using opportunities within the daily routine, such as mealtimes and bedtime, to have conversations with your child may help foster later child talk.”Related... 10 Birth Stories From Women, Proving No Two Labours Are Ever The Same At Seven Months Pregnant, I Was Attacked On The Tube. No One Helped Me. ‘We’ve Only Just Started Trying For A Baby, But Sex Feels Different Already’
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