When Do Babies Start Babbling & How to Encourage Them to Speak?

Baby Babble: A Stepping Stone to Talking

Babbling is your little one’s first milestone in the language world. Baby babbling is a positive sign, and it comprises 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.

These early vocalizations are an essential part of your baby’s language development journey. They may seem random, but they actually lay the groundwork for future communication skills. When your baby babbles, they are experimenting with different sounds and tones, building the foundation for speech. It’s also a way for them to express their needs and emotions, even if it’s not in words yet.

What Is Baby Babble and How Does It Develop?

Baby babbling sounds is when your little one talks in stages, and eventually begins to combine words to form consonant sounds or comprehensible phrases. It usually starts with sounds like “a-ga” or “a-da” and slowly works its 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 speak a few words or small phrases.

When Do Babies Start Talking?

So, when do babies babble? The babbling age of babies ranges from six to seven months, and they start talking in short sentences or phrases by the time they’re two years old. It starts with babbling, which eventually progresses into real words to two to four-word sentences. Ideally, your little one will begin 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.

What Are the Stages of Baby Babbling?

Babbling development can be categorized into two distinct stages:

1. Reduplicated Babbling

Initially, infants engage in repetitive vocalizations, where they produce the same sounds repeatedly. Early babbling often consists of sequences like “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba,” “da-da-da-da,” or “ma-ma-ma-ma.” This stage, known as reduplicated babbling, typically emerges when babies are between 6 to 8 months old.

2. Non-reduplicated or Variegated Babbling

As babies grow, they begin to diversify their vocal expressions. Around the age of 10 months, they start combining different vowel and consonant sounds instead of merely repeating identical sounds. Non-reduplicated babbling might sound like “ba-ba-di-da” or “bo-mo-do-gi.” This stage reflects a more advanced stage of vocal experimentation in their language development journey.

How to Encourage Your Babbling Baby to Speak Words?

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

  • Take his 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 babbling to encourage more babbling and make sure to read out picture books at night.
  • Take him 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 vocalisation 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?”
  • Singing nursery rhymes is a fun and effective way to encourage language development. Babies often respond well to music and rhythm. Singing familiar songs and rhymes can help your baby become more vocal and improve their memory and language skills.
  • As you go about your daily routines, provide a running commentary on what you’re doing. Whether it’s cooking, cleaning, or getting dressed, explain each step and use simple words.

How to Encourage Your Babbling Baby to Speak Words

What to Expect When You Start to Hear Your Baby Babble?

From birth, you should expect to hear your baby babble within the first six months after progressing from ‘oohs’ 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 a sing-song voice 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 receptive and expressive language development progress as he grows older, then you should 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 react to words or phrases you say to him, despite pointing to the 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 your doctor and get him evaluated.

What’s Next After Babbling?

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

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


1. Does a Deaf Baby Babble With Her Hands?

No, deaf babies typically do not babble with their hands. Babbling is primarily a vocal behavior, and while deaf babies may use their hands for communication in sign language, they still go through similar babbling stages with their mouth movements, even if they can’t hear themselves.

2. Do Autistic Babies Babble?

Autistic babies may babble, but there can be variations in their communication development. Some autistic babies may babble less or exhibit atypical babbling patterns. Early intervention and speech therapy can help support their communication skills.

3. Is Babbling a Universal Infant Behaviour?

Yes, babbling is considered a universal infant behavior. Babies from various cultures and linguistic backgrounds go through similar stages of babbling as part of their language development process.

4. My 8-Month-Old Is Not Babbling, Should I Worry?

While every baby develops at their own pace, it’s a good idea to monitor your baby’s development closely. If your 8-month-old is not babbling at all, consider discussing your concerns with a pediatrician or a child development specialist to rule out any potential issues or delays in language development. Early intervention can often address such concerns effectively.

Letting your baby babble is completely natural and is an excellent sign of speech development. All those movements with the mouth as he babbles, hone his vocalisation 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.


1. Language Development: 4 to 7 Months; American Academy of Pediatrics; https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Language-Development-4-to-7-Months.aspx

2. My baby is turning a year old this month. Should she be talking by now?; American Academy of Pediatrics; https://www.healthychildren.org/English/tips-tools/ask-the-pediatrician/Pages/one-year-old–Should-she-be-talking-by-now.aspx

3. Birth to One Year; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/01/

4. Baby Babbling and First Words: Infant Communication Explained; Connected Speech Pathology; https://connectedspeechpathology.com/blog/a-guide-to-baby-babbling-and-communication-in-infants

5. Oller. D. K., Eilers. R. E., Neal. A. R., Cobo-Lewis. A. B.; Late onset canonical babbling: a possible early marker of abnormal development; National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9833656/; November 1998

6. Language Delays in Toddlers: Information for Parents; American Academy of Pediatrics; https://www.healthychildren.org/english/ages-stages/toddler/pages/language-delay.aspx

7. Morgan. L, Wren. Y; A Systematic Review of the Literature on Early Vocalizations and Babbling Patterns in Young Children; Sage Journals; https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1525740118760215; March 2018

8. Sign Language; National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11058/

Also Read: 

Baby Sitting Milestone
Milestone of Infant Crawling
When do Baby Speak First Word

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