Caregiver’s Response to Baby Babbling Can Improve Infant’s Vocabulary Interview with:
Lukas D. Lopez

Doctoral Candidate Psychological Sciences, Developmental Psychology
University of California, Merced What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: “This study is unique because it uses LENA recording devices which are small recording devices that infants wear in the pocket of a vest that record all infant babbles and caregiver responses in the home. We then had trained listeners annotate infant-adult vocal exchanges within sections of those recordings focusing on the specific types of sounds infants made and specific types of adult responses to those sounds. Using this combination of methods is distinctive because it allowed us to capture a more natural picture of a family’s language environment in the home context, whereas most research on this topic is conducted in the laboratory.

We then related this information to caregivers’ reports of their infant’s vocabulary. Our study finds that the caregivers who scaffold and elaborate on their infant’s babbling report that their infants can say more words.” What should readers take away from your report?

Response: “Adult responses to infant babbles matter over just talking to your infant. For example, if an infant wants their ball and babbles ‘ba ba’ then the parent can respond with ‘ball’ or ‘do you want your ball?’ However, if the infant is babbling ‘ba’ trying to say bye then the parent can respond with ‘bye’ or ‘bye bye see you later’. In each of these examples the parent is sensitive to the infant’s babbling given the context, helps to fine-tune it by providing the full word intended by the infant, and sometimes also elaborates on what the infant has said.

Our findings support the idea that such instances of the caregiver recasting the infant’s vocalization and embedding it into the larger conversational context are important for fostering the infant’s language development.” What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: “Positive vocabulary development in infancy is linked with many future social and educational outcomes later in childhood. Our future research plans to examine the possible downstream developmental consequences of these caregiver responses to infant vocalizations.”


Adult responses to infant prelinguistic vocalizations are associated with infant vocabulary: A home observation study.​

Published: November 25, 2020

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Last Updated on November 26, 2020 by Marie Benz MD FAAD