Why Do Babies Babble? A Guide To Your Baby's First Words
When will your baby start making sounds that sound like words? Read on to find out all about how your little one will learn communication patterns and how to start making noises to form words!
Although the transition from endless crying to clear-cut "baby talk" might seem like a long process, parents often report that the beginning stages of talking feel like it happened overnight for their little one.
A newborn's first form of communication skills is crying, something parents will hear at all hours of the day (and night) for the early months of their little one's life. But then, just as they begin to move from newborn baby to infancy and young toddlerhood, your baby will start babbling - and constantly!
From that first "mama" or "dada," to your baby's first words, babbling is a sign that your child is in the beginning stages of language development, catching on to the sounds and rhythm of speech.
Babbling is a stage that is important for all babies.
Babbling lets baby repeat syllables and sounds that they hear. Typically, babbling begins when babies are a few months old. Babbling sounds are a precursor to using basic words and are the foundation for early language development.
A speech-language pathologist will say that babies babble as a "prelinguistic skill" that helps develop the oral motor control that they need to produce speech.
When baby babbles, they are giving their mouth a workout. Each sound baby makes helps them learn to control their vocal muscles and try using different sounds - and seeing what kind of reaction they get from their caregivers!
Baby babble is an exciting and fun milestone. Repetitive babbling can help parents recognize their baby's unique communication patterns and learn to respond to their needs.
When Do Babies Begin To Babble?
Many babies start babbling around 3-6 months of age. The earliest baby babbles might sound like "cooing," and then shortly after, babies begin to experiment with combining vowel sounds and consonant sounds.
Here is a simple look at a timeline of your baby's babble:
Around 2 months: Infants begin to "coo"
Around 4 to 6 months: The time baby will most likely start babbling
Around 7 to 12 months: Babbles begin to sound like real words
Around one year old: Your baby's babbles turn into real words and speech
When your baby becomes a toddler, they still have a long way to go before they learn communication patterns that are complicated or learn proper grammar. However, the transition from cooing to babbling is a major step for your little one to start talking.
Most babies "coo" with just vowel sounds (lots of "ooh" or "aah" type sounds). After that stage, you'll notice your baby begin to experiment with consonants. By 6 months of age, parents will notice their baby's development includes lots of babbling noises.
How Caregivers Can Encourage Baby To Babble
Phrases like “all babies do things when they're ready” are true, but parents can encourage babbling and potentially help their children along. Here's how to help your baby babble.
1. Show them what talking sounds like
Some babies start babbling on their own, but in many cases, parents show them what talking sounds like. Caregivers are their baby's first teacher, and the more they talk and show eye contact to their baby, the better their little one's language skills will be.
2. Have a "conversation"
Talking is a two-way road! Paying attention to your little ones' vocalizations can really help their ability to speak words.
Even if your little one just says things like "ma ma" or "a da" or "a ga," imitating their "words" can encourage them to keep trying. Use real language when speaking to your baby: teach them what speech sounds like.
3. Learn with music
You don't need to be a world-class musician to sing with your little one. Caregivers can really help their baby learn word sounds through singing and music. Learning songs is a great way for moms and dads to bond with their little one, and when repetitive babbling occurs, put their sounds to music and sing away!
4. Narrate what you are doing
Peer-reviewed studies show that when parents narrate their day-to-day life, their baby learns more words. Let your baby see your mouth as you talk about what you are doing. From grocery shopping to changing diapers to folding laundry to going on a walk, narrate your life and let your little one learn to speak.
When Should Parents Worry About Their Baby Not Babbling?
Your baby's healthcare provider is the best resource for making sure your baby meets important milestones like babbling. All babies develop differently, and babbling looks different between infants. When does the lack of babbling become a cause for concern?
Some babies begin to babble earlier than others, and that's okay. Most babies eventually learn to talk without issues. But if your little one is getting closer to their first birthday and still not babbling, it might be time to talk to their pediatrician.
Baby's babbles are a wonderful way for them to learn to communicate with their caregivers, which is why it is important to pay attention to the time the baby starts to babble. Speech-language pathologists can be helpful for assessing issues with speech and determining whether your little one needs early intervention.
Your pediatrician will definitely check how well your baby can hear. Hearing issues can delay speech development.
Early language development is an important milestone for babies, and baby babble is more than just random sounds. The sounds your baby makes will help them reach the next stage of language development.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.