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Baby Talk: Are Moms Better at It Than Dads?

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By Anisa Arsenault, Associate Editor
Updated January 30, 2017
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You know that talking to baby is good for her development. But you may not know baby talk is yet another battle of the sexes.

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics looked at how moms and dads talk to their babies, since most existing research only examines how moms interact with infants. To conduct the study, researchers attached a small recording device to babies with a vest, tracking verbal interactions at three different times: in the hospital, a few weeks after discharge and at seven months. (Only 33 babies from homes with both a mother and a father were followed, so it’s not representative of all types of families.)

The result: moms are more chatty. After listening to over 3,000 hours of recordings, researchers found mothers are more likely to respond verbally when infants make noise than fathers. And we mean a lot more likely to respond: 88% to 94% of the time compared to 27% to 33% for dads.

So it should come as no surprise that babies tend to respond to female voices more than male voices. Lead researcher Dr. Betty Vohr also attributes this to the sing-song voice women use more than men, and more sustained eye contact from mom.

Yes, moms and dads have different communication habits. But further research shows there may be some gender bias going on, too. Moms responded more to daughters and dads responded more to sons.

Dr. Vohr is calling for research on a wider scale, but now you know what kind of impact conversing with your baby can have on early language development, hopefully moms and dads will both get on board with baby talk.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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