Grass drawing

How do I take part?

To register your child, complete the online registration form on our ‘Sign up for a study in the York BabyLab’ page or call the Infant and Toddler Language Studies lab on (01904) 323619. Leave a message if we are unable to answer the phone: we will get back to you as soon as we can. You can also send an e-mail to linguistics-babylab@york.ac.uk.

What will happen if we agree to take part and what do we need to do?

If you do decide to sign up, your details will be entered into our database. Often we advertise for babies younger than we need them as we have quite a narrow testing window in terms of age for some studies. When your child reaches the right age, someone will call you to arrange an appointment: either for you to visit the University or for us to visit you at home, depending on the study. We will arrange a time that is the most convenient for you and for your baby’s daily routine. After the phone call, you will be sent an information sheet by email or by post with a letter confirming your appointment. At the start of your initial visit, you will be asked to sign some consent forms.

Many of our baby language studies involve one visit to our lab at the University for a speech perception experiment. You will be in a large soundproof booth. Your child will be seated on your lap while different types of speech are played through loudspeakers, and your child’s response to this speech will be observed and video-recorded. We flash little lights or show some visual display to make your baby look in certain directions, and the speakers are positioned near the lights or display. You will be asked to wear headphones playing jumbled speech, so that you will not be able to hear the speech your child is hearing. This ensures that your response will not influence your child’s response in any way.

Some of our baby and toddler language studies involve us making some recordings in your home. Sometimes this is just a half-hour filming session of you simply playing with your child. Your child will wear a special vest containing a microphone. You will also wear a microphone. Other studies involve your baby wearing a digital recording device made especially for babies throughout an entire weekend. The device is known as LENA and enables us to record for a much longer period of time and without an observer present.
Some of our toddler studies involve visits to the University for us to do special tasks with your child. These tasks involve reading a picture story book or moving some little toys around in a set of boxes.

Can we change our mind?

Taking part in our research is always entirely voluntary. If you give us your details but then decide you no longer want to or cannot take part when we call you to offer a place in a study, this is absolutely fine. Even if you have started to participate but then change your mind during the session or between sessions, you are free to withdraw at any time and without giving a reason.

How long do visits last?

The speech perception experiments in the lab only last for a few minutes, but you should allow about half an hour in total for the visit to the University as some babies are asleep when they arrive or need a quick feed before we begin. There are also some consent forms for you to sign. Some studies also involve us filming you in the baby lab after the speech perception experiment, which means your visit may last up to an hour. Home visits usually last around 45 minutes. The toddler tasks at the University will take about 30-45 minutes.

Will my child’s participation in the research be kept confidential?

Any publication of the data or the findings of our studies will maintain strict confidentiality as to your identity and that of your child. You can choose whether or not to allow your child’s video and audio footage to be used (under a pseudonym) as part of any teaching or research material. All video material is kept in a locked room.

What about child protection?

You will be with your baby at all times and children will never be left with an unsupervised adult.

Do I get paid?

You will be paid for each visit (to either the home or the University) to thank you for your time. There is a free short-stay car park near our department that you can use during University visits. If your visit is going to last longer than 45 minutes, we will provide you with a parking permit.

How can I find the lab at the University?

Follow the ‘Where To Find Us’ link on our webpage for a map showing the location of the Department of Language and Linguistic Science. The baby lab is on the second floor of B Block in Vanbrugh College. (There is a lift.) Full directions will be sent in an email or letter when an appointment has been made for your visit.

What are the possible benefits of taking part?

It is a chance for some one-on-one time with your child. We hope you will find it interesting and fun to take part in our studies. You will also be contributing to our understanding of the very early stages of language development. We will tell you about our results as the studies progress in regular newsletters.

Can a caregiver bring a child for the session instead of me?

It’s absolutely fine for another caregiver (grandparent, aunt, nanny etc.) to bring the baby to the University, as long as the child’s parents have signed our consent forms. It is also fine to conduct home sessions with another caregiver.

What happens when the research stops?

We will be happy to send you a summary of our findings when a study is complete, some time in the future. We will also keep you updated with regular newsletters as the studies progress.

Is it safe for my child to take part?

Our studies have been reviewed by the departmental ethics committee who are satisfied that there is absolutely no risk of harm to either you or your child. All studies are completely non-invasive. Our baby experiments at the University only involve measuring the length of time your child turns their head in a particular direction in response to a sound. Our toddler experiments involve looking at a book or moving some toys between compartments in a set of boxes.

We are a bilingual family. Can we still take part?

This will depend on the study. Unfortunately, most of our studies at the moment are for babies and toddlers from English-speaking families. This is because we are looking at sound patterns and need to make comparisons across a large group of children, so we need the language they hear around them to be consistent.

What if my child is ill on the day?

We don’t expect you to go ahead with visits if your child is poorly. Just ring either the lab on (01904) 323619 or the mobile number of the person who has been in contact with you, and we’ll reschedule as soon as your child is feeling better.

I haven't heard from you for ages since I signed up for a study. Why?

We want to include as many babies as possible in our studies. Please note that some of our baby studies are for infants as old as 12 months so it may be a little while before you hear from us. Unfortunately we may not be able to include everyone who has registered so far. We do apologise for any disappointment caused.

What if my baby is hungry or needs changing during a visit to the lab?

We realise that despite your best efforts to make sure a baby is fed and changed before a visit, things may not go to plan. We are happy for you to feed your baby in the lab and we have a changing mat for you to use if required.

What if there is a problem?

Any complaint about the way in which you or your child have been dealt with during the study will be addressed. In the event of any complaints arising concerning this research, please address them to Professor P. Sells, Head of Department, Department of Language and Linguistic Science, Vanbrugh College, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD or to Dom Watt, chair of the Language and Linguistic Science Ethics Committee, Vanbrugh College, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, email: dominic.watt@york.ac.uk.