Baby talk and baby blues: harnessing technology to investigate mechanisms of influence of parental wellbeing on infants

Year of award: 2015


  • Dr Elian Fink

    University of Cambridge

Project summary

Postnatal depression (PND) occurs in 10-20% of new mothers and is associated with adverse long-term consequences for children. Parents with PND are likely to be less responsive and sensitive during parent-infant interaction and this can have a negative impact on parental baby talk, a specialised form of speech used by adults when speaking to infants. Impairments in baby talk have long-term adverse effects on children’s social, emotional and cognitive development.

This project will investigate a cost-effective and efficient means to collect and code baby talk and parent-child interactions, which is currently extremely labour intensive. We propose to use LENA, a talk pedometer worn by babies to collect and code their linguistic environments, and EMOTIONSENSE, an application that tracks emotion over time. This information will then be used to examine differences in low, medium and high-risk PND groups in: baby-talk assessed via traditional gold standard methods and novel technologies; the links between pre- and postnatal parental wellbeing in parents; and the links between the quality of parent-infant interaction and emotional, cognitive and social development in early toddlerhood.