Study Finds Moms Talk More to Babies, Especially Baby Girls

Baby looks at motherAsk any parent which sex is more verbal, and you’ll likely get a confident assertion that girls are just better with language. Pop psychology tells us that this is a fundamental difference between men and women, but new research sheds light on how this phenomenon could actually be a product of parenting and environment. According to a study just published in Pediatrics, mothers may spend more time talking to girls than they do talking to boys.

Sex-Based Differences in Communication

The frequency with which a parent talks to his or her child is a major predictor of language development, with children of frequent talkers talking earlier and developing larger vocabularies more quickly. To study the effects of parent-child communications, researchers evaluated 33 late pre-term babies and their parents, ultimately amassing 3,000 hours of recordings.

Researchers found that, regardless of a baby’s sex, mothers talked to their infants more frequently than fathers. While dads only respond to an infant’s cooing and babbling 27% to 30% of the time, moms respond 88% to 94% of the time. Unsurprisingly, then, babies showed signs of preferring their mothers’ voices over their dads’ voices.

While dads responded slightly more frequently to boy babies than girl babies, the difference was not statistically significant. Mothers, however, were more likely to respond to and initiate communications with daughters than with sons. Researchers speculate that this may be because baby girls tend to engage in joint attention and make eye contact more frequently.

Previous research has suggested that a father’s degree of communicativeness has a strong effect on a child’s eventual language development. Thus the discrepancy in communication between moms and dads is a problem for boosting communication skills. Likewise, the tendency of mothers to communicate more frequently with daughters might help explain differences in vocabulary between male and female children.

References:

  1. Moms talk more to infants, especially girls, study finds. (2014, November 4). Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/moms-talk-more-to-infants-especially-girls-study-finds/article21438411/
  2. Raymond, J. (2014, November 3). The ‘baby talk’ gap? Moms may favor girls when talking to infants. Retrieved from http://www.today.com/parents/baby-talk-gap-moms-may-favor-girls-when-talking-infants-1D80257873

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  • Charla

    Charla

    November 11th, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    I think that another thing that we need to look at as both parents and educators is that I find that alot of parents spend more time encouraging this kind of written and verbal communication with their girls but there is something totally different about how we raise our boys and the loves that we try to instill in them. Seems like all of us could, should, do a better job of giving our kids a little more equality, giving them ways to be strong no matter which sex they happen to be, and then allowing them to nurture those loves no matter what they are.

  • rob

    rob

    November 12th, 2014 at 3:48 AM

    I would almost be willing to go out on a limb and say that there is simply this special relationship between mothers and daughters that is established from a very early age and that is hard to break, I think that this is why you will find the communication between them so much more solid, mothers have found a kindred spirit with those new females in their lives.

  • Jenna

    Jenna

    November 12th, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    Super weird because I always think about how moms seem to love their sons and be very close to them

  • Peter

    Peter

    November 13th, 2014 at 3:44 AM

    I definitely believe that women talk to their babies way more than men do. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about that mother child bond that lends itself to a whole lot more communication early on than I think that you will see with most fathers. Oh there are some that break the mold and defy what you would commonly think of as the norm but I know that in general there have been times when I felt like my wife and kids had their own secret language that I would need a translator for to even be a part of the conversation!

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