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 copying sounds, an important skill for learning to talk.
How Do Babies Communicate?
Your baby will use sounds (other than crying) to get your attention and express feelings. Babies this age begin to experiment with the sounds they can make with their mouths. Make no mistake, these are your baby's early attempts at speaking and should be encouraged as much as possible.
Your baby can understand meaning through the tone of your voice: soothing tones are comforting; sharp, stern, or agitated tones say something is wrong. Now, your baby is beginning to understand the basics of communication through language.
Babies can hear and understand different sounds and the way words form sentences. During this period, they will learn to take turns when making sounds with you, blow “raspberries," squeal and laugh, and may start to respond to their names.
What Should I Do?
- Interact often and play talking games. Babies this age enjoy vocal games and interactions. They will be thrilled when you copy their 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" with your baby. Speak and then wait for your baby to "answer." Ask questions and respond enthusiastically to whatever response you get. It helps to slow your speech and emphasize single words. For example, say: "Do you want a toy? This is your toy," as you show it. Then wait for a response. Following your speech with moments of silence will encourage your baby to vocalize. The give-and-take of these early discussions sets the stage for those first real words and conversations in the months ahead.
- Name everything. 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 Should I Call the Doctor?
If you have concerns about your baby's communication skills or hearing, talk to your doctor. By the end of the seventh month, most babies:
- turn their head after hearing the sound of your voice
- take turns making sounds with you
- squeal and laugh
- imitate sounds
Keep in mind that there's a wide range of what's considered normal, so some babies gain skills earlier or later than others.