“Baby talk is used really extensively, including cross-culturally, by mothers around the world,” Florida State University neuropathologist Professor Dean Falk tells Broadly.
“It exists for language acquisition in infants, and it also expresses love and facilitates bonding between the mother and the infant.”
Research shows that kids cherish being called these terms of endearment – and when it comes to adulthood, it seems similar rules apply.
“Couples, speaking this way, harken back to their own experience when they were infants and to their first love, their mother,” Falk says.
So, on a subconscious level, these soppy nick-names help us to feel closer with our bf/gfs. But other experts believe it’s more of a comfort thing at play.
“One reason is to initiate a role-playing scenario so that both participants can feel free to express their thoughts and feelings in a comfortable framework,” adds Professor Frank Nuessel from the University of Louisville.
“It allows both people a certain freedom from the normal constraints of adult rules.”
This article originally appeared on Women's Health