Communication and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old
Your baby's range of sounds and facial expressions continues to grow, with lots of smiling, laughing, and babbling. Your baby is also imitating sounds, an important skill for learning to talk.
How Babies Communicate
Babies this age begin to experiment with the sounds they can make with their mouths. Your baby will spend more time babbling and is learning to imitate sounds. Make no mistake, these are your baby's early attempts at speaking and should be encouraged as much as possible.
If you listen closely, you'll hear your baby's voice raise and drop as if asking a question or making a statement. Your baby will also use sounds (other than crying) to get your attention and express feelings.
Your baby is just now beginning to understand the fundamentals of communication through language. When younger, your baby understood your meaning through the tone of your voice: soothing tones were comforting, agitated tones told him or her something was wrong.
Now, your baby is beginning to pick out the components of your speech and can hear and understand the different sounds you make and the way words form sentences. During this period babies learn to respond to their names, may pause when they hear "no," and will start to associate words with familiar objects.
What Should I Do?
Babies this age enjoy vocal games and interactions. Your baby will be thrilled when you copy his or her coos and babbles. Imitate your baby's "bah" and "ah-goo," then follow up by saying some simple words that contain the same sound.
Have "conversations" and wait for a pause in your baby's babble to "answer." The give-and-take of these early discussions will set the stage for those first real words and conversations in the months to come. Ask your baby questions, and respond enthusiastically to whatever answers you get.
Introduce your baby to simple words that apply to everyday life. Name familiar people, objects, and activities. Babies understand words long before they can say them, so use real words and cut back on baby talk.
When you talk to your baby, slow your speech and emphasize single words — for example, say: "Do you want a toy? This is your toy," as you show it to him or her. Then wait for a response. Following your speech with moments of silence will encourage your baby to vocalize and teach that conversation involves taking turns.
Should I Be Concerned?
By the end of the seventh month, babies usually:
- respond to their names
- respond to sounds by making their own
- babble repetitive consonants
- imitate sounds
Remember that there is a wide range of what's normal for babies. If you have concerns about your baby's language skills or hearing, talk to your doctor.