Your baby will start learning about language and how to communicate as soon as they’re born. They’ll listen to you and learn from your tone, facial expressions, body language and daily experiences before they start copying noises and, eventually, speaking simple words.
Over time, they’ll start to connect the right noises and words to actions and develop an understanding of language.
Over the first nine months of life, your baby will start to communicate with you through babbling.
From four months old, they’ll start to gurgle and coo when you speak to them. You’ll learn that each sound has its own meaning, such as hunger or tiredness.
By six months, they’ll be making a range of sounds, including soft vowels like “moo”, “goo”, “aroo”, “adah” and a laugh-like noise.
At nine months old, they’ll start to enjoy babbling and will be making more complex sounds, such as “bababa” or “dadada”. They’ll also start to copy other sounds like lip-smacking or coughing. These sounds are the basis of language and, over time, will be become short words, such as “mama” and “dada”.
There are a number of different ways to encourage your baby to start and develop babbling, including:
Sounds are learnt and used through copying and repetition. You might find that your baby needs to hear the sounds and ideas many times over before they start to join in. It is difficult to know which sounds they might respond to first, so try a few ideas from those suggested to see which appeal to them.
There are a number of ways you can help your child learn and develop language, including:
Try not to let your baby suck on a dummy all of the time as this stops them experimenting with their tongue and lip movements. Make sure they’re able to join in a conversation with noises as much as possible.
If you have been following these techniques and they don’t respond to sounds, or make any sounds by six months of age, or haven't started babbling by nine months, please contact your health visiting team.
If by nine months they babble and it’s all on one note, and isn’t tuneful, please speak to your GP about a hearing assessment.
Our team also run online workshops on early language development. They are designed for parents and carers and those working within early years settings. We have three training sessions available on different topics to equip you with everyday strategies to support your child, aged up to five. Please visit our Speech and Language Therapy service page for more information and to register.