What is babbling and how to encourage your child to babble?
One of the greatest gifts as a parent is having a front row seat to all your child’s successes! The first time they sit up alone, crawl, take their first steps, and begin making their first sounds. As with many other areas of development, your child’s speech, language and communication comes in stages. So, what do the early stages look like?
The earliest sign of communication is eye contact. Soon after, your baby will begin cooing, which typically leads into putting consonant-vowel/vowel-consonant strings together, otherwise known as babbling. Eventually, your baby’s babble turns into real words. But be patient, mom and dad, babbling is journey!
When should my baby start babbling?
Vowel sounds typically emerge first, when your baby begins cooing, this happens anywhere between 6 weeks of age to 3 months old. Between the ages of 4-6 months your baby begins adding in consonants, and is developing their repertoire of consonant and vowel combinations (a-ma, ba-ga, a-da). Around 7-8 months of age, your little one is beginning to combine consonants together (ma-ma, da-da), but hasn’t quite attached meaning yet. Between 8-18 months of age is when your little one begins to actually attach meaning behind their babble. So when they say “mama” or “dada” they are actually speaking to you mom and dad! What a precious moment! Around 12 months of age your little one is turning those babbling noises into real words, such as “da” for “dog” or “ba” for “ball.”
How do I encourage my child to babble?
When your little one begin to discover their voice, the possibilities are endless! Below are some of my favorite tips to encourage, empower and increase your little one’s connection to their voice:
- Get close and get on your baby’s level: Get eye to eye with your baby, and about 8-12 inches apart, so they can really see your face and mouth. Your baby is born with mirror neurons and within 72 hours of being born, these neurons begin firing in the brain which helps your child mimic facial expressions that they see. So, the more they see what your face and mouth are doing, the more inclined they are too imitate what they see!
- Babble with your baby: Yep! You read that correctly, it is your turn to babble mom and dad! Don’t worry about sounding or looking silly, this is your time to connect with your little one! First, try babbling to your baby, model “bababa”, “mamama”, “dadada”, then give your little one time to babble back. Finally, babble back to your baby. If they make sounds, make the same sounds back! Babbling with your baby increases your baby’s response to model back what they see and hear (remember those mirror neurons?). If you are super worried about sounding silly, take the babble and turn it into a word “da-da-da-dog” while holding up a toy dog or your fur baby. I always encourage my moms and dads to use a language level that is appropriate for your little one, while also modeling real words.
- Use parentese: Parentese is a high pitch, but slow way of talking. This helps keep your little one’s attention and keep them engaged! Go ahead and give it a try, you got this!
- Wait time: I know I mentioned this before, but it is so important, I am going to mention it again! Waiting is often the hardest part, because we want to keep hearing our little one’s voice, but be patient mom and dad! After you model babbling, wait to see what your baby does back!
- Repeat: Once your baby babbles back to you, do the same thing back to them! This may last for hours and will be some of your best hours spent! Cherish the moments in connection with your little love!
These moments with your baby are so special! Be excited and don’t stress! You got this! If you want to learn more tips on how to get your baby to babble check out our Instagram post here. If you are ready to turn those babbles into real words and more, check out our online course called Speech & Language Development for Late Talkers to get more tips, interactive videos, and more!
Sholeh Shahinfar, MA, CCC-SLP, RYT
Sholeh Shahinfar is the Founder of Valued Voices, a licensed Speech Language Pathologist, Child Communication Specialist and Certified Oral Motor Therapist. She is passionate about uplifting children’s voices in the world and inspiring self-expression. In her free time, Sholeh embraces a vegan lifestyle, loves going to the ocean, exploring nature with her pup Kobe, practicing yoga, traveling, and spending time with her loved ones.