What is cooing for a baby?
Cooing, the precious sound babies make, is their first vocal milestone and it’s sure to bring a smile to any parent. Cooing is your baby’s way of finding their voice. Babies typically begin cooing around 3 months old, but this can vary with every child. Cooing is a combination of laughter and vowel sounds and typically lets you know your baby is happy and content. Coos engage different mouth muscles.
From 0-3 months of age: Baby cries and coos.
- During this stage, the baby communicates through crying that they are hungry or uncomfortable.
- They coo and sigh and begin to make sounds that require their voice box to vibrate, like gurgles.
From three months of age to more than one year old:
- Babies coo and gurgle with pleasure by 3-6 months old (while listening to their parent’s voice or listening to music).
- Babies turn towards your voice and other sounds and coo more in response to your voice. Encourage cooing by making funny faces or sounds or by blowing on the baby’s belly and laughing.
- When babies coo, they are using the back of their throat to create vowel sounds such as ah-ah-ah and oh-oh-oh.
- Try talking back and they may respond with another ah-ah-ah. Don’t expect your infant to coo on cue though. They may still need time to master the coo conversation.
- Whatever you talk about, your baby just loves the sound of your voice. If they don’t spontaneously coo by three months of age, check with the doctor who may run a few hearing tests.
- Research shows that babies respond well to shorter sentences, smaller words, and exaggerated tones and gestures.
- Parents can support their baby’s language development by talking back to them when they coo and by reading books to them daily.
- Let your baby hear different sounds: wind chimes, ticking clocks, soft music, or music boxes. Sooner than you know, that cooing will turn into words. One of them will probably be "no," just a head's up.
- These adorable baby sounds will eventually turn into actual words.
- Cooing ultimately develops into other syllables, such as dada or mama, and language continues to progress so that by 1 year of age, babies often say their first meaningful word.
- Scientists think cooing at a newborn baby is not only a sign of affection but also a vital part of teaching them to speak.
Your baby may have an oral response to music. Your baby may coo or vocalize or even just make rhythmic tongue movements. This is the beginning of singing. Notice if your baby’s cooing matches the pitches of the song you’re singing. Even babies just a few months old are capable of matching pitches if the song is within their comfortable vocal range.
Benefits of cooing include the following:
- It is an indicator that your baby's communication skills are developing. It helps your baby to graduate to more complex sounds.
- Your baby begins to start exercising their lips, palate, and tongue.
- This is also an avenue for back-and-forth conversation to develop between you and your baby.
- You will be able to understand your baby's reaction to stress, hunger, and happiness. Cooing is now their means of expression.
- Cooing also helps in your baby's overall language and vocabulary development.
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Cho-Hisamoto Y, Kojima K, Brown EC, Matsuzaki N, Asano E. "Cooing- and babbling-related gamma-oscillations during infancy: intracranial recording." Epilepsy Behav. 23.4 Apr. 2012: 494-6. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2012.02.012. Epub 2012 Mar 16. PMID: 22425743; PMCID: PMC3319232. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3319232/>.
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