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Talking about baby babble: 0 – 6 months

You might be worrying about what’s normal, ok or a sign that your 0 to 6 month old will study English at Oxford sometime soon. This guide talks about what to expect, how to encourage your baby’s babble and when to chat to someone else.

Around six weeks after having a child, lots of things start changing. You consider that one day, you might be able to stay up past 9pm and go on a night out. You may even think about the possibility of getting dressed before midday. But one of the biggest milestones around this time is the start of baby babble.

From now until when your baby is six months, they will communicate much more by watching your face when you speak to them. As well as cooing and gurgling, they’ll start smiling and laughing when other people do.

They’ll have different cries for different times, like their ‘I need milk NOW’ cry and their ‘Seriously, will someone sort me out with a nap’ cry. They will start to use their voice more actively, open their mouth wide and move their tongue in what seems like a very deliberate way. You baby will often make arm and hand movements at the same time. This is all called pre-speech (Truby,1971).

Perhaps the most exciting, and definitely cutest, way they will communicate with you is with baby babble. This is where they make inarticulate sounds and a crucial move towards ‘real’ speech. Here’s how to encourage this exciting baby development.

Talk back to them

Use sentences like ‘Are you talking to me?’ or ‘What’s that you’re saying?’ as though you’re having a conversation. This tactic might make you feel silly in the supermarket queue but it’s proven to encourage baby speech development (NHS Choices, 2017).

Get close

Hold your baby near your face when you’re ‘talking’ to each other so they can see you clearly (NHS Choices, 2017).

Imitate them

Copying the baby babble sounds will encourage more noises and is the start of conversations (NHS Choices, 2017).

Narrate your life

The regular chat will help them to turn their babble into words. Even if any other audience might find your monologue about the dishwasher a little dull, your baby is listening (NHS Choices, 2017).

Sing it

Instead of the seriousness you might use in a meeting at work, when you respond to your baby’s babble, try to speak in a singsong voice. It will keep your child interested (NHS Choices, 2017).

Spend proper time together

Sit down and play, or head down to your local library to read some books with them. This way you can really bring on their baby babble. Concentrate on having a one-on-one chat (NHS Choices, 2017).

Communication skills your baby develops

As you’ll know, children develop skills at different rates. But by six months, your baby will usually have a few ways of communicating.

They’ll turn towards sounds and get startled by loud noises. They’ll recognise your voice and watch you when you talk, smiling and giggling along with people. They’ll make sounds, cooing, gurgling and babbling, making noises to get your attention and tell you what they need (Talking Point, 2017). 

If needed, talk to someone else

Have a quick chat to your health visitor or GP if your six month old baby isn’t:

  • babbling
  • making eye contact when spoken to
  • smiling in response to smiles
  • watching with interest someone who’s speaking
  • being startled by loud noises. (Talking Point, 2017)

It may be nothing to worry about but they’ll be able to put your mind at rest.

Further information

Our helpline offers practical and emotional support in many areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700.

You might find attending one of our Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

For more help with communicating with babies and toddlers check out NCT’s bumper crop of info here.