We're Talking Baby Talk

Your baby's been communicating with you from day one. Remember that wail she let loose as she entered this world? This was her first attempt to let you know how she was feeling. Her communication will slowly evolve and you hopefully won't be submitted to much more crying. In any case, it's useful to know what those cries mean.

  • piercing, high-pitched scream: baby is hungry
  • whimper with staccato cry: change her diaper
  • soft, low-pitched melodic cry: baby is uncomfortable
  • cooing: your baby is just exploring their vocal range and probably satisfied
Don't worry about losing your sanity over constant crying. Soon, your baby will develop language skills.

Language Timeline

  • 1-4 months: cries, laughs, frowns, smiles, makings cooing sounds
  • 5-8 months: starts producing phonemes or single syllables and strings these syllables together to 'babble'
  • 9-11 months: gestures meaningfully, improves on 'babbling' repertoire
  • 11-14 month: may speak first words, stay tuned!

Listen Up
Is there anything you can do to help her language development? You bet. The ability to speak starts with the ability to listen. At 28 weeks in utero, your baby's hearing developed. Since then, she's been listening to your every word. About 90% of her language development stems from listening, so it's a good idea to chatter away at your baby. Linguists have found that parents are hardwired to 'baby talk' their infants; this is a language known as 'parentese'. Try some of the following to help develop your baby's language skills:

  • keep a running commentary about what you're doing: 'mommy is going to take you outside to play'
  • imitate sounds: 'look, there's a bird, tweet tweet'
  • take every opportunity to talk, read and sing to your baby

And what about you listening to what your baby has to say? It's integral in her developing a positive perspective on language. If you respond to her cries (within reason) and actively listen to her communications, she'll understand that she can use language constructively to meet her needs and communicate her feelings.