Journal of Child Language vol:39 issue:3 pages:523-552
Various measures for identifying the onset of babbling have been proposed in the literature, but a formal definition of the exact procedure and a thorough validation of the sample size required for reliably establishing babbling onset is lacking. In this paper the reliability of five commonly used measures is assessed using a large longitudinal corpus of spontaneous speech from forty infants (age 0 ; 6-2 ; 0). In a first experiment it is shown that establishing the onset of babbling with reasonable (95%) confidence is impossible when the measures are computed only once, and when the number of vocalizations are not equal for all children at all ages. In addition, each measure requires a different minimal sample size. In the second experiment a robust procedure is proposed and formally defined that permits the identification of the onset of babbling with 95% confidence. The bootstrapping procedure involves extensive resampling and requires relatively few data.