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LENA for Language Development

Tracking Baby's Words

In Sunday's New York Times Magazine, I came across an interesting piece on baby talk.

Most parents are curious about how their child measures up to the developmental milestones and physical growth charts.

While some parents brag about their tot's precocious behavior, others secretly worry about their lagging babe, especially if the lil one isn't talking much.

To learn what these parents can do about it,


Terrance Paul from Infoture created LENA (language environment analysis) for $400. According to the article:

Terrance Paul's current venture (LENA) was inspired by a well–known study that found that professional parents uttered more than three times as many words to their children as did parents who were on welfare. The children in the less talkative homes turned out to be less verbal and to have smaller vocabularies. Other studies have suggested that these gaps affect later professional success.

LENA is a voice recorder that attaches to the kid's clothing and reportedly assesses children's verbal skills as well as their exposure to verbal stimulation. In the future, they hope the device will also be able to account for speech entropy, which is the adding of new words, phrases or sounds to their skill set.

Critics of the LENA system have legitimate concerns about how words, syntax, and verbal growth can actually be charted using a recorder. Others argue that parents of LENA children will converse more than normal in efforts to better their child's LENA scores. And, some lil ones who may just be slower to mature in dialogue could be identified as "having a problem" when their timing is off in comparison to their peers.

But many agree on one simple idea – the more you speak with your children, the more you provide them the tools and confidence from which their language can evolve.

Tell us, would you buy a LENA if you were concerned with your babe's language development?

Join The Conversation
macneil macneil 9 years
" Since entering Mommy-hood I have become extremely proficient at worrying. I was good at before, but I'm REALLY good at it now." Ha ha ha! Some of my cleverest friends say they didn't start speaking till they were two. I love my baby's babble, I'm going to be sad, I think, when it turns into real demands! But every stage is - oh, why does being a parent allow you to say such trite things without irony?? - precious.
JennyJen2 JennyJen2 9 years
I have a nearly 4 year old nephew who until just recently never spoke more then a few words. There is no reason and his parents talk to him constantly. I think if I was in their shoes and there was no reason for the poor communication skills, I might want something to measure my child's verbal skills. I think it would be more for my own piece of mind. And if it creates more dialog between me and my child (or my child and their caregiver) then all the better! By the way in my nephew's case - they entered him into a preschool and added speech therapy into the mix and he is talking so much you need to tell him to be quiet!
karmasabitch karmasabitch 9 years
No thanks. Every child develops at a different rate and they should be free to do so.. without pressure.
bessa bessa 9 years
No, I wouldn't buy this. I don't think this is a good product. Who knows if it works. It's very expensive. And it doesn't fix anything - it just monitors the 'talking' situation. You'd be better off spending $400 on more books to read to your little ones. Plus, who knows what that study (that LENA makers rely on) really means. Isn't it probable that any child will likely develop the vocabulary of his/her parents?
luckyme luckyme 9 years
I wouldn't do it. Since entering Mommy-hood I have become extremely proficient at worrying. I was good at before, but I'm REALLY good at it now. Her lack of babbling was something I was actually very concerned about in the last couple of weeks. However, I spoke to her doctor and like lickety split said, her lack of babble had to do with the fact that she is physically ahead of the game (she was taking unassisted steps at 7 months...). This stifled my worrying a bit, but of course, I was still concerned. Much to my excitement, she started babbling on Friday and she has not shut up since. Anyway, all kids do things at their own pace. It's so hard not to worry about it, but to become fixated on it is unhealthy for you and for them. From my experience, I have learned to try to focus on what they are doing instead of what they are not. Of course, if you feel in your gut that something is not right, listen to that. Mommy intuition is like no other.
Twinkle1 Twinkle1 9 years
No. Kids develop at different rates and one shouldn't worry too much about whether or not their child is an early or late talker. It doesn't mean your child is going to be a failure if he talks later. Just as being able to read at an early age, doesn’t guarantee he will be any great success. Both my kids were late talkers despite being raised by professional/educated parents who have never been on welfare. Of course when they did start to speak, it was in two languages so this may account for the delay.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
no, but probably only because of my personal experience. my oldest spoke right on time, hit all the milestones and then regressed. even when i knew there was an issue i couldn't get a diagnosis for months (later it was autism) because she had "too much language". words alone don't tell the story, are the words being used appropriately, are they spontaneous, are they overly repetitive, is it “canned” (heard from a source such as tv or learned from a parent). If the child is understanding what is asked of them and is able to follow a 2 step instruction I wouldn’t worry about how many words they had (although “experts” say a minimum of 50 by 2), until 2 ½.. all children are different and mature in different areas at different rates. A child that is especially coordinated in motor skills might be a “late talker”. I also find that mommy radar works best. If mom thinks there’s an issue with speech or something else she’s usually right and she should act on her concerns.
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