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Child Care Health Dev. 1999 Nov;25(6):447-56.

Turn-taking in early vocal interaction: a comparison of premature and term infants' vocal interaction with their mothers.

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Department of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, UK.



The present study was designed to test the hypothesis that mothers of premature infants compared with mothers of term infants differ in the structure which they impose on the vocal exchanges with their infants.


Thirteen mothers and their premature and term babies, were observed at discharge and 2 months later in three situations: free play, changing nappy, and feeding. Maternal child-directed speech was coded as well as the timing of their utterances in respect to the infants' vocalizations. The mean relative frequency of infant vocalizations following maternal child-directed speech was computed.


It was found that mothers of premature babies in comparison with mothers of term babies, followed significantly more often their infants' vocalizations with an utterance directed at the child. In contrast, term infants compared with preterm infants followed significantly more often their mother's utterances with a vocalization.


Mothers of premature and of term babies differ in their timing of child-directed speech. This might have implications for the language development of premature and term infants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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