7 - 8 Months

What research says about how to respond to your baby’s babbles 

Mother holding their baby

Did you know that the way you respond to your baby’s babbling can actually shape the way they communicate? 

University researchers in Iowa and Indiana found that babies whose parents responded to their babbles frequently and intentionally showed an increase in new consonant-vowel vocalizations (‘baba, mama, dada’) that sounded more and more like discernible words. The babies also began directing their babbling more deliberately at their caregiver, indicating a more advanced understanding of how social communication works.

How to respond to your baby’s babbling

Try to figure out what your baby is babbling about. If your baby is playing with the Spinning Rainbow, you might say, “Wow! The Spinning Rainbow is going so fast when you spin it. I see you watching all those colors fly by.” If they spin it again, you can say, “Whoosh! Do you like hearing that spinning sound?” This helps teach your baby that words have meaning and can be used to describe their experience.

Have a ‘conversation’ with them. Even though your baby isn’t talking yet, you can still have meaningful ‘conversations’ with them. This back-and-forth interaction, called ‘serve and return,’ is a mix of words, gestures, and sounds that build off one another. Here’s what it might look like:

  1. Your baby makes a sound, then stops and looks at you.
  2. You make eye contact and repeat the sound they made.
  3. They make a similar sound again, and smile.
  4. You smile, make the same sound, then add a new one. As the conversation develops, try matching your baby’s facial expression with lots of eye contact.

Use gestures when you respond. When talking to your baby, use slow, exaggerated gestures. Your baby won’t be able to imitate you in this way yet, but you can help them learn that gestures and body language are part of communication.

Learn more about the research

Gros‐Louis, J., West, M. J., & King, A. P. (2014). Maternal responsiveness and the development of directed vocalizing in social interactions. Infancy, 19(4), 385-408.


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Posted in: 7 - 8 Months, Language, Speech Development, Cognitive Development, Lovevery App, Child Development

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