Baby Babble: A Stepping Stone to Talking

Baby Babble: A Stepping Stone to Talking

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Baby babbles are your newborn’s first milestone into the language world. Baby babbling is a positive sign, and it comprises of coos, gurgles and many delightful sounds that sometimes make no sense, whatsoever. But fear not, if your baby is cooing and babbling, then his speech and cognitive functions are slowly developing. Here’s what you need to know about baby babble.

What is Baby Babble and How Does it Develop?

Baby babbling is when your little one talks in stages and eventually begin to combine words to form consonant sounds or comprehensible phrases. It usually starts with sounds like “a-ga” or “a-da” and slowly works the way up to words that associate with meanings. The babbling stage is a sign that your baby’s brain and speech functions are developing as your baby tries to make sense of things through his first babbles and progresses on to speaking few words or small phrases.

When do Babies Start Talking?

The babbling age of babies range from six to seven months, and they start talking in short sentences or phrases in two years eventually. It starts with babbling which eventually progresses into real words to two to four-word sentences. Ideally, your little one will start speaking and holding conversations properly after the age of four. Before this period, he will progress from babbling to speaking two-word syllables and beyond.

How to Encourage Your Babbling Baby to Speak Words

Here are some ways you can encourage your babbling baby to speak words-

  • Take toys and describe them. Give your little one a toy or two and ask him to babble about it.
  • Whenever your baby babbles, make eye contact and respond lovingly.
  • Imitate his/her babbling to encourage more babbling and make sure to read out picture-books at night.
  • Take him/her out to the park and ask him to babble about his surroundings. Point out to objects and describe them in one-word like “tree,” “piggy,” or “doggie.”
  • If your baby repeats a sound you just made, repeat it again. Repetition is key and aids in vocalization practice as well
  • Ask questions and talk to yourself by imitating model questions like “Should we go to the park?” “Bread or oatmeal for dinner?”

baby talking to mother

What to Expect When You Start to Hear Baby Babble

From birth, you should expect to hear your baby babble within the first six months after progressing from ‘coohs’ and ‘aahs.’ From this point on, your baby will be learning and taking in the different sounds and shapes of language, moving toward syllable-based sounds and two to three-word phrases. Here is a timeline of what you should expect.

Birth to 6 months 6-12 months 12-24 months
1. What You Can Hear Sounds like “ba”, “da”, “na” and “ah-goo” Syllable-based sounds like “ma ma”, “pa pa” etc. Syllable-based words turn into phrases like “mama go” or “papa no”
2. What Baby Is Doing Learning different sounds of the language Training to master the sounds and shapes of words Building his vocabulary from 10 to 50 words before turning two years old
3. How To Help Your Baby Use sing-alongs and natural speaking patterns to help your baby associate sounds with actions Pick up objects and say only the words, not sentences. For example, “shoe,” “ball,” “kitty” when he’s looking at the object/item Ask simple questions and give simple answers like “baby sleepy,” “ready to eat?” “baby nighty nighty”
4. When You Should Be Concerned If your baby doesn’t babble and is not interested in listening to you If your baby doesn’t react or respond when his name is called and if he doesn’t understand simple words like yes-yes and no-no. If your baby doesn’t talk before two, that’s normal. You should be concerned only if your baby doesn’t babble or progress his vocabulary at this age

What If Your Baby is Not Babbling

If your baby is not babbling or making the receptive and expressive language development progress according to the baby speak age, then you may be concerned. If your baby doesn’t respond to language cues, isn’t interested in babbling or listening to you and can’t seem to respond to words or phrases you mean, despite pointing out to objects or yourself, then it could be a case of hearing impairment or impaired language development.

Talk to your local school and visit the paediatrician to screen for language issues and inquire about early intervention programs. If stuttering persists for more than six months, take her to the clinic and get her evaluated.

What’s Next After Babbling

When your child turns four years old, he/she should be able to understand sentences and speak in phrases of more than five to six months. He/she will be aware of some grammar basics and be able to talk well enough to be able to hold conversations with strangers and answer questions you ask. Once your baby begins babbling, chat with him every day and continue encouraging him to be a chatterbox. Point out to objects and ask him to describe and you do it too.

The key takeaway is to hone his receptive and expressive language development during this time, and that’s parents focus on.

Letting your baby babble is completely natural and a very good sign of speech development. All those movements with the mouth hone and babbles hone their vocalization skills and promote language development. Make babbling a fun activity and play games with your little one to speed up his growth. It doesn’t matter whether or not you say things that make sense – as long as you keep talking, babbling and teaching, your little one’s speaking skills will continue growing.

In due time, he will be able to progress towards saying ‘mama’ and ‘papa’, and that’s when you’ll know that all your hard work is beginning to pay off.

Also Read: Speech Therapy for Babies