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baby cooing

Cooing 101: A Guide to Baby’s First Vocal Milestone

If you’re a parent similar to me, every milestone achieved was bittersweet– excited that my baby is learning new things, but also sad because they’re growing up. With each of my babies, I was highly attentive to every social communication and speech and language milestone.

One of the earliest and most adorable speech and language milestones is when our babies begin to coo. Cooing is the heart-warming sounds babies make when they begin to vocalize through vowel sounds and express themselves. 

What is Cooing?

Cooing is a prelinguistic (meaning, develops before words) skill that babies make during the early stages of speech and language development. Cooing typically involves producing soft, melodic vowel sounds. This marks the beginning of a baby’s journey towards language acquisition. It signifies their developing vocal abilities and their growing awareness of their own voice.

When Does Cooing Begin? 

Babies typically start cooing in infancy between the ages of 2 to 4 months. Some babies may begin cooing as early as 6 to 8 weeks, while others may start a little later. This special milestone occurs before babbling emerges around 6 months.

Why is Cooing Important?

Cooing serves as a foundation for future language development. It’s an early form of communication and a way for babies to express pleasure, excitement, and engage with those around them. By cooing, babies begin to explore the range of sounds they can produce. Cooing also helps babies develop conversational skills (yes, this early!), listening skills and lays the groundwork for understanding and imitating speech sounds.

There is even evidence to suggest that early vocalizations hold valuable clues regarding future linguistic development, specifically in terms of vocabulary acquisition. Enhanced vocabulary acquisition has been associated with various factors, such as increased levels of early vocalizations before reaching 6 months of age, more complex babbling patterns, and regular use of specific consonant sounds.

How to Encourage Cooing in Babies:

There are various ways you can encourage and support your baby’s cooing:

1) Provide a responsive and nurturing environment: Interact with your baby by talking, singing, and engaging in playful vocal melodic exchanges. They need to hear what talking sounds like before they try themselves!

2) Use positive reinforcement: Praise and smile when your baby coos, beginning to show them that their words are important to you.

3) Have a conversation: Respond to your baby’s coos by imitating their sounds and expressions. Wait a few seconds for them to respond either through vocalization or facial expression, and repeat. This encourages conversational turn-taking and reinforces their communication attempts. They may even try to imitate your sounds. I do this with my son all the time! It looks like this

When to Seek A Professional:

Cooing is a natural part of early speech and language development. However, if you notice significant delays in your baby’s cooing or if they show no vocalizations by 4 to 6 months, please reach out to your pediatrician and consult a speech-language pathologist. Your baby’s overall development will be assessed and support can be provided if needed.

Cooing is an exciting milestone in a baby’s early communication journey. It signifies their developing vocal abilities, social interaction, and emerging language skills. Remember, each baby develops at their own pace, so it’s important to provide a nurturing and language-rich environment that encourages their vocalizations. 

If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language development, please don’t hesitate to reach out. By fostering a supportive and engaging environment, I can help your child thrive in their communication milestones and lay a strong foundation for future speech success! 

Are you concerned about your child’s speech and language development? Sign up for our newsletter to receive tips and resources on supporting your child’s communication skills. If you live in Frederick County, Maryland, or Northern Loudoun County, Virginia, book a free phone consultation with me to learn how I can help your child.

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