Even before infants produce their first word, they are developing the oral-motor skills through sound play during babbling as soon as they are born. Like language, these sounds are developing in a linear pattern from less complex sounds and patterns as they approach their first word. Here is a guideline of what to expect in terms of babbling development in a child’s first year of life.
Birth to one month
Normally developing children are born with the ability to phonate. They demonstrate reflexive vocalizations through crying, burping, coughing, and sneezing. They also demonstrate no reflexive sounds, which sound similar to nasal ‘m’, and ‘n’ sounds.
Two to three months
Cooing sounds are often made by babies in this age range. These sounds are similar to the back vowel sounds that we produce in the middle of words like ‘law’ or ‘note’. Infants at this age also start to put sounds together in a consonant + vowel (e.g. ba) or vowel + consonant (e.g. um) form, often containing back vowels and back consonants such a ‘k’, ‘g’ or ‘ng’.
Four to six months
Between four and six months, infants begin to explore and expand their babbling. They are able to gain better control of their voice and muscles in the head and neck such as the tongue and lips. They begin to engaging in vocal play and make a range of sounds such as squealing, growling, yelling and blowing “raspberries”. Their vocal productions vary from day to day and they begin to male vowels sounds that have better oral resonance. Marginal babbling with CV and VC syllable sequences is also more frequent in this age range.
Seven to nine months
As children approach nine months they reach a stage of Canonical babbling. Production of CV syllables becomes more adult like in a timely and accurate manner. They begin to use some reduplicated syllables such as ‘bubu’ and ‘mama’. The infants range of sounds increases to include some stop sounds (p, b, t, d), glides (w, y) and nasals (n, m). The infants vowel inventory may include some front sounds such as ‘e’ as in head, ‘i’ as in hid or ‘u’ as in hut. Their vowel sounds slowly move from back ‘k’ and ‘g’ sounds to front ‘t’, ‘d’, ‘p’ and ‘b’ sounds.
Ten to twelve months
Variegated babbling begins to arise at this age which entails the use of different CV syllables and infants begin to produce vocal stings such as ‘bamegu’ and ‘tikati’. They begin to use adult like intonation and prosody where their tone and speech changes so they make sound like they are asking questions in their babbling or exclaiming an important point. The most frequently used vowels at this age are
‘e, u, a and oo’ and the ‘h, d, b, m, t, g, s, w, n, k, j and p’ are the most frequently used consonants at this age.
Over twelve months
Around one year of age is when infant commonly produce their first word. A range of babbling may continue shortly after this time however is gradually replaced with meaningful speech.
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This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have questions about children’s speech and language development, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.