Experts Say Fathers Are Responsible For A Babies Vocabulary

The next time you find yourself in a feud with your significant other over who the baby learned their first word from, remember this…

Experts Say Fathers Are Responsible For A Babies Vocabulary – so good or bad, the dad is the one on the hook for it!

Baby Vocabulary

According to a recent study, researchers took a look at the father tongue and mother tongue hypotheses to determine how babies receive their vocabulary. 

Mother’s Role in Baby Vocabulary

It used to be believed that mothers played the sole role in determining a babies vocabulary (mother tongue hypothesis) which led the group of researchers led by Menghan Zhang at the Laboratory of Contemporary Anthropology at the University of Fudan to conduct this study.

Father and child - father responsible for vocabulary - Kids Activities Blog

For the study, they looked at 34 modern Indo-European (IE) populations. In this study, genetic histories of paternal and maternal migrations in these IE populations were elucidated using phylogenetic networks of Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups, respectively. 

Father’s Role in Baby Vocabulary

Overall, the results concluded different results based on the time fathers and mothers spent with the children and the area in which they lived in.

However, they found that linguistic variations correlated with the Y chromosome, passed on from the father, and had no correspondence with mitochondrial DNA, passed on only by the mother. (Source)

Dad and baby playing in the living room - Kids activities blog

In other words, children get their vocabulary from their father rather than their mother due to the Y chromosome that is passed on by fathers.

Baby Actions & Behavior Development

So, it’s genetics that may determine a babies vocabulary. But if you think a mothers work goes unnoticed, it doesn’t.

In fact, babies are said to learn more words, actions and behaviors from their mother.

So, while they may get their vocabulary from dad, they get almost everything else from their mother this is typically due to the fact that babies naturally spend more time with their mother from birth.

Overall, moms and dads both play important roles in a child’s development and vocabulary but if you ever find yourself looking for someone to blame when your baby says a curse word or something they shouldn’t, this might be helpful! 😉


Do you think this is true in your house?  Who is more responsible for baby’s vocabulary?


  1. If it’s left on the y chromosome doesn’t that mean only make babies would receive dad’s vocab. Females get Dad’s x chromosome not the y.

  2. Tom Rausch says:

    Somebody’s dad needs to teach her how to form the possessive “baby’s,” not “babies.”

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