Babies announce their entry into the world by crying. It is the first sound they produce. Well, it’s no less than a sound of music for new parents. Besides crying, cooing is the first language or communication milestone that a baby achieves and one of the baby’s most important developmental milestones in their first year.
Read on as we tell you all you need to know about cooing in babies, including the answer to the common question, “When do babies start cooing?” We also tell you the benefits of cooing in babies and how to encourage them to coo.
What Is Cooing?
Cooing is the spontaneous behavior of an infant to communicate their needs and feelings.
Cooing usually refers to the vowel sounds that babies produce. These sounds could include monosyllables, such as “ah,” “ooo,” or “eee,” and disyllables, such as “ah-ah,” or “ooh-ooh.”
When Do Babies Start Cooing?
Generally, a baby starts to coo or make gurgling sounds when they are about two months old (1). At this age, they also start responding to sounds, smiling, and mimicking your facial expressions (1) (2).
As is true in all milestones, some babies may take more time to start cooing, as all babies develop at their own pace. However, if your baby does not coo by three months, consult your baby’s pediatrician.
How Does Cooing Help Babies?
- Skill development: If your baby starts cooing, it means your baby is developing communication skills. It is your baby’s attempt at vocalizing their needs. As time pass, they will begin to understand more complex sounds.
- Mouth exercise: Cooing involves different parts of the mouth. A baby starts exercising their lips, palate, and tongue as well as jaw with their constant cooing and gurgling.
- Bonding: It helps create a special bond between you and your child. When you make certain sounds and gestures, they start acknowledging them and try to mimic them.
- Understanding needs: Cooing is your infant’s means of expression. Through this, they try to communicate their pain, happiness, hunger, etc. It will give you firsthand experience of your baby’s reactions and help you read your baby’s cues better.
- Language development: The first language of a child, besides crying, is cooing. Cooing offers your infant vocal practice and prepares them to learn a language.
How To Encourage Babies To Start Cooing?
It is absolutely divine to see a baby react to your “coochi coos” with their coos or with a smile. Here’s how you can encourage them to coo and use their pre-language development skills such as facial expressions, imitation, gestures, and eye-contact (1) (2) (3) (4) (5).
1. Communicate with your baby
Communication is crucial for any language development. Speak to your child as it will encourage them to respond to your gestures. You can engage them by showing them a toy and describing it. Repetitive use of common words in your everyday conversation can help your child associate words with objects.
2. Keep speaking frequently
Babies understand words long before they begin to speak. Speak to them in the language you speak. Babies love to imitate. If you show excitement, they will respond to you in the same way. Keep speaking whether you are feeding them or taking them out for strolls. Touch your nose, lips, and eyes and encourage them to imitate you.
3. Tell them what you are doing
If you are giving a bath to your child, show them their tub before putting them in it. Tell them how you form bubbles from the shampoo. If you are working in a kitchen, show them different vegetables and fruits. When you take them out in a car, let them peep out of the window, and talk to them about the different vehicles moving by. These will help in developing their cognitive skills, which are crucial for early language development.
4. Use actual words
Use actual words while talking to your baby. Say “orange” instead of “olange”. Speaking to your baby using “baby talk” is not encouraged, because the child loves to imitate you. Wrong words will send the wrong signal to the child. It’s okay to blabber with them once in a while, though.
You might think it’s early to introduce them to words, but you’re helping them learn their first words. When they say their first words, which generally happens at around six months, you would want to hear real words, such as “mama” or “dada.”
5. Maintain eye contact
Always maintain eye contact with your baby to attract their attention. Babies start paying attention to objects and faces and recognizing people at a distance at around two months. Eye contact is a non-verbal form of communication that can help them build focus. It can also help them differentiate between you and a stranger.
6. Repeat your child’s sounds
Whatever sound your child makes, try to repeat it. Always react enthusiastically to your baby’s sounds. Enjoy this two-way conversation. This will let your baby know that you are there to fulfill their needs.
7. Sing to your baby
We all have slept to the lullabies sung to us by our parents or grandparents. Do the same with your baby. See your baby’s response when you sing to them. They might start cooing along with you and gradually go into a deep slumber. Interestingly, music also encourages cooing in a baby.
A study conducted by scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) has shown that music helps improve infants’ cognitive skills and the ability to detect patterns in sounds.
8. Read them a story
It is never too early to acquaint your child with books. Read out stories to your child by emoting with expressions. Reading gives your baby an opportunity to hear new sounds. Colorful pictorial images of the storybook can excite them, too. While reading a story, emphasize the simple words, such as love, happy, and sad, to elicit your child’s reaction.
9. Explore the world with your baby
It’s always fun to take your baby outdoors to familiarize them with birds, animals, and many other things nature has to offer. This is another way of developing their language skills. Every new thing that excites them will encourage them to coo. Take them to a garden and look at their reaction when they see a bird flying. It’s always a good idea to keep talking to your baby while exploring any place to boost their cognitive skills.
We hope these tips enable you to help your baby transition to the next stage of language development, that is, babbling, smoothly. Enjoy every minute of this fleeting phase, and we hope the first word your baby utters in the next few months is “Mama” or “Dada.”
2. Communication and Your 1- to 3-Month-Old; The Nemours Foundation
3. Speech and language development from birth to 12 months; Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust
4. Susan A. Rose, Judith F. Feldman, and Jeffery J. Jankowski; A Cognitive Approach to the Development of Early Language; HHS Author Manuscripts (2009).
5. Music improves baby brain responses to music and speech; University of Washington