Fathers’ repetition of words is coupled with children's vocabularies

Jessica F. Schwab, Meredith L. Rowe, Natasha Cabrera, Casey Lew-Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Differences in vocabulary size among children can be explained in part by differences in parents’ language input, but features of caregivers’ input can be more or less beneficial depending on children's language abilities. The current study focused on a specific feature of infant-directed speech: parents’ repetition of words across utterances. Although previous work with infants showed a positive relation between repetition and children's vocabulary, we predicted that this would not be the case later in development. Instead, parents may use less repetition as their children become increasingly proficient language learners. In the current study, we examined the extent to which low-income fathers of 24-month-olds (N = 41) repeat words to their children using three indices: type–token ratio, automated repetition index, and partial repetition of open-class words. The same finding emerged across all measures of repetition: Fathers whose children had larger vocabularies at 24 months repeated words less often, suggesting a developmental coupling of fathers’ input and children's language proficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-450
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
StatePublished - Feb 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


  • Fathers
  • Infant-directed speech
  • Language development
  • Repetition
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Word learning


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