1. Jasin, Lisa R. DNP, NNP-BC
  2. Newnam, Katherine M. PhD, NNP-BC, CPNP-PC, FAANP


Background: Premature infants are at increased risk for language delays. The auditory system hears sounds at 25 weeks' gestation; therefore, infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) may miss crucial language exposure during the period when neural pathways for language processing are developing. Supporting the synergistic relationship between fathers and newborns promotes connections through early language to strengthen engagement and promote infant neurodevelopment.


Purpose: To determine what is known about preterm infants' response to the male voice.


Data Sources: Three databases and forward searching of reference lists were used to locate articles addressing the clinical question: "What strategies can be used in the NICU to support purposeful language development?"


Study Selection: Empiric, primary research studies were included if they were published in English without date restriction.


Data Extraction: The authors evaluated each study's quality using a validated 16-item assessment tool (QATSDD) developed for studies with diverse designs; data were extracted and organized following Garrard's Matrix Method.


Results: The aim of this evidence-based review is to report the way an infant responds to the paternal voice. Findings promote a better understanding of individual infant response to paternal voice, including conversational turns and engagement behaviors. Although informative, this review highlights a clear gap in the evidence, supporting standardized methodology.


Implications for Practice and Research: Fathers should be encouraged to communicate vocally early and often to facilitate bonding in the NICU. Encouraged future study of father-infant communication to support bonding, relationship building, and neurodevelopmental outcomes is paramount.