Baby Talk: Study Examines How Mothers & Fathers Converse With Their Infants

Research has shown the importance of reading, talking and singing in infant and toddler language development, and a new study examines the role of gender in these parent-child conversations.

The study, "Gender Differences in Adult-Infant Communication in the First Months of Lif," published in the December 2014 Pediatrics (published online Nov. 3), analyzed audio recordings taken at three points in time after the birth of 33 late preterm and term infants.

Researchers found infants from birth through age 7 months were exposed to significantly more speech from mothers compared to fathers, and that infants preferentially responded to mothers' compared to fathers' speech. They also found parents may respond preferentially to children based on gender; mothers responded more frequently to girls rather than boys at birth and at 44 weeks postmenstrual age, and there were trends for fathers to respond preferentially to sons at 44 weeks. Overall language exposure increased over time for all infants as they matured.

Study authors conclude both mothers and fathers should be informed about the important benefits of parent talk for their child's language development.

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Published

11/3/2014 12:00 AM