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Parentese (also referred to as ‘motherese, ‘serve and return,’ ‘child directed speech’, or ‘baby talk’) is a way of ‘speaking’ with infants that includes a higher vocal pitch, sing-song inflections, exaggerated facial expressions, and constant eye contact.

An prodigious body of neurological and cognitive research – from Harvard, Princeton’s Baby Lab, the University of Washington, and many others - has demonstrated that mothers’ interaction with their newborns exclusively in Parentese from birth though six months is essential for development of the neurological architecture in their infants' brains that is responsible for language - and  then  acts  as  the  foundation  for  all  subsequent learning.

Getting all parents to speak Parentese with their newborns will demolish the cruel cycle of intergenerational poverty in the US and thereby ensure the supply of skilled workers the country must have to compete in a global economy where our competitors’ workforces are increasingly well-educated and accordingly more productive.

Source: Harvard Center On the Developing Child

Parentese despite being in a right-time/right-place context, will transmit gently corrective text messages and if necessary even trigger live voice calls from mentors.

The ParenteseNow app will also build moms’ confidence and self-esteem by transmitting congratulatory text and/or voice messages whenever they are speaking Parentese often and well.

In addition, all detected vocal and background sound will be recorded and automatically uploaded to a central server for

  1. Mentors’ use in evaluating and counseling their new moms
  2. Independent academic researchers’ use in conducting longitudinal analyses of the relationships between the quantity and quality of moms' use of Parentese during the seven month period of home-visits and, for instance,

- the children's subsequent performance on standardized language and cognitive tests for infants and toddlers, their school attainments pre-K and beyond, measures of their health and well-being, and eventually even their labor market performance.

- measures of the mothers’ own health, well being, and real-world functioning

Obtaining Proof of Concept for Our ParenteseNow Intervention.

Ideal partners for helping us carry out usability testing of the ParenteseNow app in real word settings include MIECHV (Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting) or similar home visiting programs.

Following receipt of their exhaustively-informed consent, moms-to-be will be given use of the phones for seven months beginning roughly one month before their due dates. As an added incentive, they will be advised up front that if they exceed course minimums for frequent and proper use of Parentese they will be allowed to keep the devices at the end of seven months.

Correction of glitches, addition of features, and downloading of updated versions of the app will be carried out on an on-going basis throughout the seven-month field trial.

A month before their due dates we will give target moms high-end smartphones equipped with our ParenteseNow app.


This high-tech ‘on-the-job-training’ tool will get new mothers actually interacting with their children in Parentese while simultaneously providing them with instant feedback on their job performance.

The app will monitor moms’ environment 24/7s and, as soon as it detects that they’re not speaking proper Parentese


Unfortunately few of our country’s most socio-economically disadvantaged mothers speak Parentese with their newborns at all, much less as soon and as often as they should.

In his presentation at the LENA Foundation’s 2017 Conference, Flávio Cunha, Professor of Economics at Rice University and the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania, showed how 1) both the growth in US income inequality and the continuing declines in labor productivity are the result of our education system’s failure to generate more qualified college graduates and 2) the solution lies in widely implementing parent-infant interventions with demonstrated positive impacts on children’s language, cognition, and socio-emotional development.

‘Motherese’, ‘Serve and Return Interaction’, ‘Child Directed Speech’, and ‘Baby Talk’ are other terms for Parentese.

We are dedicated to achieving a single objective: ensuring that all new moms interact with their newborns as often as possible in Parentese - and Parentese only - throughout their first six months.  

►  Listen to a National Science Foundation Report

“On average infants who had heard the most Parentese a year earlier knew 433 words at two years of age whereas the infants who had heard the least Parentese knew only 169 words at two years.”

NSF-0214-020 BABBLE ON.mp3

Scanning Babies’ Brains at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Science

This analysis of all available scientific research on child-directed speech/parentese appeared in the journal Cognitive Science in September 2016. Its authors are Jessica Schwab, a fourth-year PhD candidate at Princeton’s Baby Lab, and Professor Casey Lew-Williams, Co-Director of the Baby Lab.


Organizational Details

Join us in some heavy lifting!




Charter Supporters

L. Kirk Baird
Managing Director,
K. Baird and Associates
Yale University (BA)

James C. Beverley
Retired Educator
Princeton University (AB)


John W. Burke III
Re­gional Solicitor, National Park
Service (Ret.)
Princeton University (AB),
George Washington University (JD)

Princeton University (AB)

. Lauson Cashdollar
Practicing Attorney
Princeton University (AB),
University of Pittsburgh (JD)

Robert C. Clendenin
Managing Director, One Tiger Inc.
Princeton University (AB),
Widener University (JD)

Bernard J. D’Avella, Jr.
CEO, D’Avella Family
Business Consulting
Princeton University (AB),
University of Pennsylvania (JD)

Glen P. Goltz
Practicing Physician (Ret.)
Princeton University (AB),
University of Wisconsin - Madison (MD)

Theodore S. Hoster
President,Triumph Marketing Group
Princeton University (AB)
Dartmouth -Tuck School of Business (MBA)

Ronald J. Innerfield
Guam Regional Medical City
Princeton University (AB),
New York University (MD)

Landon Y. Jones
Journalist and Recipient of Time Inc
Luce Award for Lifetime Achieve­ment
Princeton University (AB)

Carl B. Feldbaum
CEO of Biotech Industry Organization (Ret)

Princeton University (AB)

University of Pennsylvania (JD)

Charles J. Plohn, Jr.
Managing Director, Merrill Lynch (Ret.)
Princeton University (AB)
University of Pennsylvania/Wharton (MBA)

Richard G. Reinis
Practicing Attorney,Thompson Coburn
Princeton University (AB),
USC Gould School of Law (JD)

S. Kent Rockwell
Chairman & CEO
Rockwell Venture Capital Inc
Lafayette College (BA),
University of Pennsylvania/Wharton (MBA)

Paul Segal
Princeton University (AB)
Princeton University (MFA)

John B. Slidell
Vice Chairman/President,
Bozzuto Land Co. (Ret.)
Princeton University (AB)
University of North Carolina (MFA)

Marschall Smith
General Counsel, 3M Company (Ret.)
Princeton University (AB),
University of Virginia(JD)

John H. “Turk” Thacher, Jr.
President, Baker Industries, Inc.
Princeton University (BSE)
University of Pennsylvania/Wharton (MBA)

Michael K. Tooke
School Street Capital Group (Ret.)
Princeton University (AB)

Jay Lagemann
Sculptor and Artist
Princeton University (AB),

Francis E. Nuessle
Business Consultant/Entrepeneur
Princeton University (AB)

Robert E. Nahas
Managing Director,
Bob Nahas Executive Search
Princeton University (AB)

Edward S. Bent
Secondary School Business Manager (Ret)
Princeton University (AB)








#Scanning Scanning Machines

At the same LENA conference, Natasha Cabrera reviewed research showing that the improved linguistic foundations resulting from Parentese during the earliest months also lead to improved outcomes during the toddler stage and thereafter. 

Ms. Cabrera is Director of the Family Involvement Laboratory and Professor of Human Development at the University of Maryland/College Park. These are the main points of her Lena presentation: 

Click here to read one of the published papers Professor Cabrera’s Lena presentation drew from:




Tom Benghauser spent fifteen+ years in the US, Germany, South Africa, and the UK in high level management positions with ad agency giants such as JWT (New York, Detroit, London) and McCann Erickson (Frankfurt, Capetown).

In 1986 he co-founded and was Managing Director of the Brand Dynamics Group (London), a pioneer in the use of multiple regression analysis and other advanced econometric techniques for developing predictive models of brand performance and then employing these models in optimizing marketing strategies for clients that included Kodak, American Express, Philip Morris, Kraft, GlaxoSmithKline, and RJR.

In 1993 Benghauser founded and until 2005 was CEO of CARS (Customer Analysis & Retention Systems), a highly-successful UK-based loyalty enhancement consultancy that carried out its still-unique, high ROI-generating satisfaction-research/customer-loyalty telephone dialogue programs for marketers such as Vauxhall Motors, General Motors Europe, Fiat-Alfa Romeo, Saab GB, and a number of large dealer groups in the UK.

He returned to the U.S. in 2005 with the intention of retiring but has instead become a formidable one-man think-tank (aka geeky albeit modest nerd) specializing in critical infant-education and higher-ed accessibility issues.

He is a graduate of Princeton (AB with Honors) and the University of Pennsylvania (JD plus graduate studies at Wharton).


George B. Weiksner, Jr
Vice Chairman, Credit Suisse (Ret.) Princeton University (BSE)

Stanford University (MBA/JD)

Robert Y. Kopf
Smithfield Trust Company
Princeton University (AB)
Vanderbilt University (JD)

Dean E. Wanderer
Attorney, Wanderer & Associates
Princeton University (BSE)

Pennsylvania State University (JD)


Parentese Clip.wav

These children’s significantly but needlessly reduced chances for financially and emotionally successful lives are clearly tragic, but the impact spreads well beyond individual family units to our nation as a whole.