What Do Caregivers Tell Us about Infant Babbling?

Heather L. Ramsdell-Hudock, Andrew Stuart, Teri Peterson


Phonetic repertoires in babbling are an important marker of prelinguistic development. Typical phonetic development, however, is difficult to identify given variability within and across infants. Prior to 18 months of infant age, caregiver report of prelinguistic vocal development is often an important part of clinical practice for early intervention. As a first step toward understanding the utility of caregiver report of babbling, the purpose of this exploratory study was to determine how the phonetic makeup of sounds reported by caregivers in infant babbling would develop, in particular comparison to markedness theory and established norms. In a longitudinal design, caregiver report was tracked through weekly interviews from 7 to 18 months of infant age (N = 15). Reports were phonetically transcribed and examined in terms of the number of utterances; place, manner, and voicing for consonants; and tongue position for vowels. In general, the number of utterances and phonetic segments reported by caregivers increased significantly with infant age (p < .05) and phonetic feature patterns were similar to what one would expect in the vocal development of English-learning infants. Results support the notion that caregiver report of infant vocalizations may provide a valuable means for describing early infant babbling development.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/sll.v2n3p161


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Copyright (c) 2018 Heather L. Ramsdell-Hudock, Andrew Stuart, Teri Peterson

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