Babbling to Speech

The Group conducts research on early development of speech, language and communication in children with congenital or early adverse conditions such as cleft palate (CP±L), hearing loss (HL), neurodevelopmental disorder or extreme prematurity, as well as methods for screening and assessment of babbling and early speech/expressive language.


Among the most common early signs of developmental disorders in children is when their speech, language or communication do not develop as expected. Babbling is an important precursor to speech, both in typically developing children and in children with different kinds of disabilities. Deficits in babbling may predict later speech and language difficulties. The overall objectives of the project are:

  • Evaluate effect of intervention for parents of young children with a late babbling start or a small expressive vocabulary
  • to develop and validation of methods for screening and assessment and babbling and early speech production
  • to examine auditory, speech, language and communication skills longitudinally from 0-3 years of age in children with known adverse conditions in childhood such as hearing loss, cleft palate, neurodevelopmental disabilities, and extreme prematurity.
  • to test if children without known adverse conditions, who later show developmental delay including language and communication deficits, can be identified early by evaluating a method of babbling screening.

The following projects are included

Early development of Speech and Hearing 
(TUTH – Tidig Utveckling av Tal och Hörsel):

Fluctuating hearing loss due to secretory otitis media (OME) is very common in children born with cleft palate (CP±L). In the TUTH project, early development of speech and hearing is studied in a controlled group study of children with CP±L and children with OME, respectively. Subprojects include hearing, perception and production of consonant sounds, development of language sound systems, vocabulary and language comprehension up to 3 years of age. (Anette Lohmander, Traci Flynn, Liisi Raud Westberg, Birgitta Tengroth).

Swedish children with moderate hearing loss – on the importance of monitoring auditory and early speech development the first three years

The early hearing, speech and language development is examined in a group of children with moderate sensorineural hearing loss from the time for hearing aid adaptation (before 6 months of age) to 3 years of age and is compared with a contemporary group with normal hearing. (Doctoral project; Anna Persson) (Traci Flynn, Anette Lohmander)

Children with late babbling at 10 months of age: parental communication and follow-up of speech language abilities:

Speech, language and communication are studied longitudinally in children who do not have canonical babbling at 10 months of age. Furthermore. Parents’ communication with children who do not have canonical babbling at 10 months is investigated. (Doctoral project; Marion Lieberman) (Anette Lohmander, Carmela Miniscalco, Lisa Gustavsson).

Babbling and early speech in children born with cleft palate

Have been described in several projects earlier in the group (Kristina Klintö, Anette Lohmander). Another study will complement the knowledge related to the impact of cleft palate closure in one or two sessions. The study is included in a doctoral project (Effect of treatment on speech in children born with cleft lip and palate) (Emilie Hagberg, Anette Lohmander).

Babbling in extremely premature babies at 12 months of corrected age:

Canonical babbling and consonant production are examined in a group of extremely premature babies. (Master project, Ellinor Strandberg), (Marion Lieberman, Anette Lohmander). The project is based on Stockholm preterm interaction-based intervention (SPIBI).

Babbling, speech and language difficulties in children with neurodevelopmental disorders:

Babbling and early speech at 1-2 years of age in children with neurodevelopmental disorders are examined and followed up at 5 and 7 years of age. (Doctoral project; Anna Nyman), (Anette Lohmander, Carmela Miniscalco, Sofia Strömbergsson)

Methods for assessing babbling and early speech

include several projects: Validation of variables and method for observation of babbling and consonant production has been done and are used in all projects by the Group Babbling to Speech (Lieberman & Lohmander, 2014; Lohmander et al., 2017). More specific is the evaluation of babbling screening in the subproject Jollerkoll (Lieberman, Sand, Lohmander, Miniscalco), and a study of the measure Canonical Babbling Ratio (Nyman, Strömbergsson, Lohmander).

Parent-implemented intervention for young children with late babbling or using few vords:

The importance of parents' compliance with their children's sounds and actions has been reported for children with typical development as well as children with various difficulties and developmental disorders. Focused stimulation is an intervention technique where target language forms are frequently verbally modelled for the child by an adult during play or other interactions. In one study are opportunities to influence parents' compliance with early indirect intervention investigated. In another, the effect of a treatment method is evaluated where parents learn a technique for developing the child's vocabulary. (Doctoral project Marion Lieberman, Anna Nyman), (Anette Lohmander, Sofia Strömbergsson, Lisa Gustavsson, Carmela Miniscalco).