I've learned through course lectures that infants can recognize faces shortly after birth (Slater & Quinn, 2001), and have a visual preference for human features as young as 1-month-old (Sanefuji et al., 2011)[pdf]. Infants are also known to prefer hearing their mother's voices (DeCasper & Fifer, 1980) and motherese (Fernald,1984). Prefences for higher-pitched singing also suggests that babies may in general prefer higher pitches (Trainor & Zacharias, 1997).

In general I would like to know more comprehensively what types of sound preferences do young infants have? And when is the youngest age for which these preferences are observed?

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    $\begingroup$ It seems that the preference for mother's voice develops in the fetus at about 32-34 weeks after gestation. $\endgroup$ May 13, 2012 at 20:26

1 Answer 1


Quote from article at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23805119

Infants prefer speech to non-vocal sounds and to non-human vocalizations, and they prefer happy-sounding speech to neutral speech. They also exhibit an interest in singing, but there is little knowledge of their relative interest in speech and singing. The present study explored infants' attention to unfamiliar audio samples of speech and singing. In Experiment 1, infants 4-13 months of age were exposed to happy-sounding infant-directed speech vs. hummed lullabies by the same woman. They listened significantly longer to the speech, which had considerably greater acoustic variability and expressiveness, than to the lullabies. In Experiment 2, infants of comparable age who heard the lyrics of a Turkish children's song spoken vs. sung in a joyful/happy manner did not exhibit differential listening. Infants in Experiment 3 heard the happily sung lyrics of the Turkish children's song vs. a version that was spoken in an adult-directed or affectively neutral manner. They listened significantly longer to the sung version. Overall, happy voice quality rather than vocal mode (speech or singing) was the principal contributor to infant attention, regardless of age.


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