Welcome to the When To Worry Study!

When to Worry (W2W) is a research study being conducted within Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

This study looks at how young children’s emotions, behaviors, and language, which are all important parts of a child’s development. As young children develop new skills, they may become upset and have tantrums when they are frustrated. For most young children these behaviors are common and mild. For other children, their behavior can pose concerns for later development. In this study, we are interested in identifying how these behaviors influence children’s language development and emotional well-being. To do this, we study children over time, from around the child’s first or second birthday through age 54 months. We hope to share our research with parents, pediatricians, and other healthcare providers to help them know if or when they should be concerned about a child’s behavior and language.


If you are invited to participate, you and your child would come to one of our Child Development Center locations, at Northwestern’s Chicago or Evanston Campus, once or twice per year to complete activities and interviews.

We will also check in with you every two months through the completion of surveys and the LENA Language Recording. Completing the W2W Surveys helps us to get to know you and your child and stay updated with any changes in between your yearly visits. The LENA Language Recorder is a small recording device that your child would wear in a small vest for one day every other month and records your child’s language environment.

By participating in the When to Worry Study, you will find out useful information about your child’s development. After each yearly visit, you receive a report with highlights about all the developmental areas that your child is doing great in. You also receive reports letting you know the number of words your child hears per day and the number of words they say per day, so you can track your child’s language development for that important developmental period!

_Click here_ to read more about the W2W study in Chicago Parent magazine.

_Click here_to watch a video about the W2W study on NBC news.






This research study is being conducted at Northwestern University under the oversight of P.I. Dr. Lauren S Wakschlag. The study has been approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) (STU00202880).