New BabyWordTracker app allows parents to treasure baby’s first words

Friday, 13 November 2015

BabyWordTracker app 1

An Oxford Brookes University researcher has created a mobile app which parents can use to track the vocabulary development of their young children.

The new BabyWordTracker app allows parents to record words their baby begins saying or understanding in real time. Parents are then able to view a range of statistics about their child’s word learning, for example the number of words over time (per week, month or overall) or the number of words per category e.g. animals, toys, food. The interactive interface allows parents to treasure their child’s first words. 

We do not know enough about the vocabulary trajectory of a baby. Our BabyWordTracker will help us solve this problem.

Dr Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez, Researcher at Oxford Brookes University

Dr Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez, lead researcher in the Oxford Brookes BabyLab said: “Until now, the study of infants’ vocabulary development has been done using either vocal recordings or questionnaires for the parents, both of which have only allowed us to know the amount of words that a baby knows at a specific moment.

“We do not know enough about the vocabulary trajectory of a baby. Our BabyWordTracker will help us solve this problem.”

Evidence has shown that babies start understanding words as early as five months of age. At five months, infants know their own name, and at six months can link the words ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’ to their own parents. They will also understand words common in their environment such as toys. Foods and words related to body parts but it is not until their first birthday that babies start producing their first words.

BabyWordTracker app screenshot

By 18 months of age, infants are able to produce about 10 words, but they are able to understand over 30. Just a few months on, by their second birthday, babies understand almost 100 and they are able to say almost 70 different words. 

Parents of bilingual and trilingual babies can also use the app to track the development of their infants. The app covers 16 different languages including German, French, Italian, Arabic, Swedish, Hebrew, Czech and Japanese. 

The information collected on the app will be uploaded onto an Oxford Brookes University secure database. The data (no personal or identifiable details) will then be available to the research community and interested academics to help further the understanding of how young children’s vocabulary develops. 

The BabyWordTracker has been developed with the Oxford Brookes IT team and is available to download for free via the Apple App Store or as an Android app.

Dr Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez works in Oxford Brookes’ Department of Psychology, Social Work and Public Health. More information about the department can be found on the dedicated webpages.