A Multilab Study of Bilingual Infants: Exploring the Preference for Infant-Directed Speech

Krista Byers-Heinlein, Angeline Sin Mei Tsui, Christina Bergmann, Alexis K. Black, Anna Brown, Maria Julia Carbajal, Samantha Durrant, Christopher T. Fennell, Anne Caroline Fiévet, Michael C. Frank, Anja Gampe, Judit Gervain, Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez, J. Kiley Hamlin, Naomi Havron, Mikołaj Hernik, Shila Kerr, Hilary Killam, Kelsey Klassen, Jessica E. KosieÁgnes Melinda Kovács, Casey Lew-Williams, Liquan Liu, Nivedita Mani, Caterina Marino, Meghan Mastroberardino, Victoria Mateu, Claire Noble, Adriel John Orena, Linda Polka, Christine E. Potter, Melanie S. Schreiner, Leher Singh, Melanie Soderstrom, Megha Sundara, Connor Waddell, Janet F. Werker, Stephanie Wermelinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


From the earliest months of life, infants prefer listening to and learn better from infant-directed speech (IDS) compared with adult-directed speech (ADS). Yet IDS differs within communities, across languages, and across cultures, both in form and in prevalence. This large-scale, multisite study used the diversity of bilingual infant experiences to explore the impact of different types of linguistic experience on infants’ IDS preference. As part of the multilab ManyBabies 1 project, we compared preference for North American English (NAE) IDS in lab-matched samples of 333 bilingual and 384 monolingual infants tested in 17 labs in seven countries. The tested infants were in two age groups: 6 to 9 months and 12 to 15 months. We found that bilingual and monolingual infants both preferred IDS to ADS, and the two groups did not differ in terms of the overall magnitude of this preference. However, among bilingual infants who were acquiring NAE as a native language, greater exposure to NAE was associated with a stronger IDS preference. These findings extend the previous finding from ManyBabies 1 that monolinguals learning NAE as a native language showed a stronger IDS preference than infants unexposed to NAE. Together, our findings indicate that IDS preference likely makes similar contributions to monolingual and bilingual development, and that infants are exquisitely sensitive to the nature and frequency of different types of language input in their early environments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Individual participating labs acknowledge funding support from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Grants 2011-402470 and 2015-03967; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grants 435-2015-1974 and 435-2015-0385; Agence Nationale de la Recherche Grants ANR-17-EURE-0017 and ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02; Western Sydney University Early Career Researcher Start-up Grant 20311.87608; European Commission Grant MSCA-IF-798658; European Research Council Synergy Grant SOMICS 609819; European Research Council Consolidator Grant “BabyRhythm” (773202); The Leverhulme Trust Grant ECF-2015-009; UK Economic and Social Research Council Grant ES/L008955/1; Research Manitoba, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, University of Manitoba; Office of the Deputy President (Research & Technology) funds from National University of Singapore; and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant R01HD095912.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • bilingualism
  • experimental methods
  • infant-directed speech
  • language acquisition
  • open data
  • open materials
  • preregistered
  • reproducibility
  • speech perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (all)


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