Infants’ sensitivity to rhyme in songs

Laura E. Hahn*, Titia Benders, Tineke M. Snijders, Paula Fikkert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Children's songs often contain rhyming words at phrase endings. In this study, we investigated whether infants can already recognize this phonological pattern in songs. Earlier studies using lists of spoken words were equivocal on infants’ spontaneous processing of rhymes (Hayes et al., 2000; Jusczyk et al., 1999). Songs, however, constitute an ecologically valid rhyming stimulus, which could allow for spontaneous processing of this phonological pattern in infants. Novel children's songs with rhyming and non-rhyming lyrics using pseudo-words were presented to 35 9-month-old Dutch infants using the Headturn Preference Procedure. Infants on average listened longer to the non-rhyming songs, with around half of the infants however exhibiting a preference for the rhyming songs. These results highlight that infants have the processing abilities to benefit from their natural rhyming input for the development of their phonological abilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-139
Number of pages10
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • infant-directed song
  • rhyme
  • spontaneous processing

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