Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Metric

MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories (MB-CDI)


Access: FREE/Open Access

applicable ages

8-36 months; 0-3 years

available language(s)

English, Spanish, and 100+ Others.


Must be purchased


The MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories (MB-CDIs) are instruments that can be used to measure a child’s early language development across a variety of abilities including vocabulary comprehension, production, gestures, and grammar.


3 Age-Based Versions Available:

    • Infant: 6-18 months
        • Receptive vocabulary
        • Expressive vocabulary
        • Communicative gestures
        • Symbolic gestures
    • Toddler (18-30 months):
        • Productive vocabulary
        • Early phases of grammar
    • Children (30-37 months)
        • Vocabulary production
        • Grammar


Norms Across All Groups Accessible By:

    • Total group
    • Age of identification
    • By degree of hearing loss
    • By cognitive level
    • By age of identification and cognitive level


Administration Format: parent report; web-based database available for scoring and interpretation


Administration: 20-40 minutes | Scoring: 10-15 minutes | Total Time: 30-55 minutes


Reliability (Dale 1989):

    • Internal Consistency: good (alphas ranged from 0.67-0.96)
    • Test-Retest: good (alphas ranged from 0.86-0.95)


Validity (Dale 1989): tests using Bayley Scales of Infant Development suggested correlations across MDI vocabulary measures, consistent with a four month delay between parent report and standardized test.


Available for Purchase: CDI – Brookes Publishing Co.


Source: https://mdcresearch.net/index.php/ehdi-outcomes/macarthur-bates-communicative-development-inventory/


Source: https://mb-cdi.stanford.edu/index.html

supporting literature

Hutchins, T. (2013) MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories, Second Edition. In: Volkmar, F. R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Springer, 1773-1779.
PDF: MB-CDI – 1 – Hutchins 2013
Link: https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-1-4419-1698-3_769

Maylor, J., Mani, N. (2019) A Short Version of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories with High Validity. Behavior Research Methods, 51(5), 2248-2255.
PDF: MB-CDI – 2 – Maylor 2019
Link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/s13428-018-1146-0

Urm, A., Tulviste, T. (2021) Toddlers' Early Communicative Skills as Assessed by the Short form Version of the Estonian MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory II. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 64(4), 1303-1315.
PDF: MB-CDI – 3 – Urm 2005
Link: https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2020_JSLHR-20-00201?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubmed

Dale, P.S., Bates, E., Reznick, J.S., Morisset, C. (1989) The Validity of a Parent Report Instrument of Child Language at Twenty Months. Journal of Child Language, 16(2), 239-249.
Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2760125/