Who doesn’t love the sound of a baby babbling? Those tiny sounds produced by such an adorable creature are enough to make even the toughest of hearts melt. And, when baby pairs his babbling with a wide smile, it is heaven on earth for any parent or caregiver!
Because babbling is such an important precursor to speech, it cannot be overlooked as a fun, playful activity that should be in the life of every 0-12 month old baby. Babies will learn to babble on their own (without any help from the grown-ups around them), unless a child is experiencing hearing loss, developmental differences or delays. However, research tells us that babies’ brains light up like fireworks, even at the young age of 2-3 days old, when they hear babbling of syllables that repeat, such as “ba-ba-ba” and “mo-mo-mo.” Although the babies brains in the research did not light up as much with strings that did not repeat (e.g., ko-ta-pe-so), there was still some electrical activity noted (Electrical activity in a brain means there is a response to the stimulus, or information, presented to the baby). With this in mind, babbling nonsense, with duplicated syllables, to a baby is as important as speaking in a typical fashion or reading to him every day. As much as they need to hear words and sentences, research is also telling us that it is more than OK to babble at a baby since it causes electrical activity in the brain. Who wouldn’t want their baby’s brain to light up like fireworks, indicating brain stimulation is taking place?
The following list of sound strings to babble at your baby may seem meaningless, but the sounds chosen are deliberate. The strings incorporate all the possible movements that speakers make, including jaw, lip, face and tongue movements, to produce the sounds of English. By exposing baby to these every day during face-to-face time, he will see the movements as well as hear the sounds you are making, thereby stimulating both his visual and auditory systems at the same time. It should be mentioned here that this auditory-visual connection is crucial for learning to speak (i.e., it’s not enough for baby just to hear the sounds). Research tells us that babies as young as 4 months of age understand the “face shape + sound” connection (In the research lab, babies 4 months of age and older turned away out of disinterest when the shape of a face on a computer screen did not match the sound they heard. For example, if the face presented had an “OH” lip-face shape, but the sound heard was an “ee” sound, the babies would turn their heads away and lose interest.).
So, be sure to produce the following sound strings facing baby, at about a 12-18 inch distance from his face. Have fun babbling these sounds! Smile while you do it, if not because the activity is entertaining for you, but because you picture your child’s brain like the night sky on the 4th of July.
- da-da-da-da (“a” like in “father”)
- ma-ma-ma-ma (“a” like in “cat”)
- po-po-po-po (“o” like in “toe”)
- tu-tu-tu-tu (“u” like in “shoe”)
- ve-ve-ve-ve (“e” like in “eat”)
- shu-shu-shu-shu (“u” like in “shoe”)
- ku-ku-ku-ku (“u” as in “cup”)
- na-na-na-na (“a” as in “cat”)
- ba-ba-ba-ba (“a” as in “may”)
- ga-ga-ga-ga (“a” as in “father”)