If your little one sticks their tongue out and makes a fizzy sound, it is known as blowing raspberries. Most babies love doing it, and you may find them trying it for their amusement.
While sticking the tongue out and blowing silly sounds comes across as an antic, it has a role to play. Blowing raspberries is a notable skill during infancy and could be essential for a baby’s language development.
Read on to learn when babies blow raspberries, the reason behind it, and how to react to it.
When Do Babies Start Blowing Raspberries?
Babies usually start blowing raspberries between the ages of four and six months (1). It is the phase when the baby will also begin cooing and gurgling. It is common for some babies to begin blowing raspberries earlier or later, and some may not do it at all. As long as your baby is achieving their vital developmental milestones, it is okay if they blow raspberries later or avoid doing it.
Why Is Your Baby Blowing Raspberries?
Babies may usually blow raspberries as part of their language development. It lets the baby exercise their tongue and lips, and experiment with all the sounds they can make with them (2). Thus, blowing raspberries is a form of vocal play, and is similar to other types of play that help an infant polish their abilities through games and activities.
Another reason why babies blow raspberries is to gain attention. Babies between the ages of four and six months often respond to sounds by making sounds and make various sounds to gain parents’ attention (3). They may repeatedly try it to gain attention and entertain themselves by the reaction it elicits from others.
How To Respond When A Baby Is Blowing Raspberries?
Blowing raspberries is part of the baby’s normal development, and it is okay to encourage it. Below are some ways to respond to a baby who is blowing raspberries (2).
- Imitate the baby: It is your turn to blow raspberries back at them in response. Apart from imitating the raspberry sounds, also mimic the baby’s other sounds to stimulate language development.
- Respond uniquely: Set aside a unique sound to respond to your baby blowing raspberries. It can help the baby blow raspberries in the context of communication until they can speak.
- Speak to them: The more you talk to your child, the better they learn how to form sounds. Speak to your little one each time they blow raspberries. Talk to them about your day, describe what you are doing, and even ask questions. Respond positively if they answer back with blowing raspberries or cooing sounds.
- Sing to your baby: Maintain a dedicated song or nursery rhyme that you can sing when the baby begins blowing raspberries. Encourage them to join you along, even if it is through cooing and blowing raspberries sounds.
- Encourage new sounds: You can even make new sounds and encourage the baby to mimic you. Every new sound helps the baby experiment with different mouth movements, flexing the oral muscles and strengthening them.
Blowing raspberries together also offers a great opportunity for parent-baby bonding. Make sure you maintain eye contact so that the baby is completely engaged.
How Does Blowing Raspberries Benefit A Baby?
- Exercise the facial muscles: To blow a raspberry, the baby sticks out the tongue, puckers the lips around it, and pushes the air out. Several voluntary actions happen here, letting the baby exercise control over facial muscles, which play a vital role in speech. In time, it could even help them purse their lips around a spoon or a sipper.
- Learn voice control: Babbling, cooing, and blowing raspberries encourage experimentation with voice control. It could help the baby understand that they can manipulate the voice’s pitch, which is vital when we speak words.
- Experiment with cause and effect: Some babies may blow raspberries only to check the reaction it elicits from caregivers, siblings, and other family members. A baby may act amused or giggle once you respond positively to blowing raspberries. It is the first step towards learning cause and effect, and understanding the world through experimentation.
- Improve parent-baby bonding: Since the baby often blows raspberries to interact with the parents, it could improve their bonding. Blowing raspberries is also a great conversation starter for the parent. It encourages activities that parents and babies can try together.
- Soothe sore gums: Some babies may blow raspberries to soothe their gums while teething. The sound and vibration made during blowing raspberries could ease the irritation caused by inflamed gums.
When To Be Concerned About Baby Blowing Raspberries?
Blowing raspberries is seldom a cause for concern and does not indicate any underlying problem. You may consult a doctor if blowing raspberries is accompanied by:
- Inflamed gums with pearly white appearance, which may indicate Epstein pearls.
- Orofacial anomalies, such as cleft lip or palate.
- Poor language development even as the baby approaches toddlerhood.
It is okay if some babies do not blow raspberries, and it is not indicative of any developmental delay.
Blowing raspberries is a playful activity and could play its part in the baby’s language development. Parents can encourage blowing raspberries and even teach babies ways to use it for communication. As the baby grows older, blowing raspberries will be gradually replaced by consonant sounds and simple words.
2. Speech and language development from birth to 12 months; NHS UK
3. Speech and Language Milestones, Birth to 1 Year; C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital
4. Early babbling; Pompeu Fabra University
5. Elizabeth Gutierrez, Language development: The journey through the first two years; Michigan State University