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  • Writer's pictureSharon Burgess

Key Babbling Milestones | Speech Therapy

Have you ever wondered what exactly is babbling? And by which age should a baby be babbling? Or if your baby is not babbling, what it could mean and what could you do?

babbling key milestones speech therapy ottawa

Research shows that canonical babbling, which is an important cross-cultural developmental milestone that is achieved when infants regularly produce well-formed syllables including a consonant and vowel, is critical in forming the foundations for speech and language:

  • it precedes first words,

  • it predicts language outcomes,

  • and is delayed in infants with several communicative disorders such as dyspraxia of speech, autism and other developmental delays and disorders.


Explained simply, canonical babbling is the repetition of syllables

such as "ma-ma-ma" or "da-da-da".


The age of onset of canonical babbling in typically developing infants is nearly always by 11 months of age (Oller and Eilars, 1988).

Heres are some strategies that you can use at home to help support your child in their use of babbling:

  • model, model, model;

  • pause and wait when playing and interacting with your child to create moments when your child can vocalize and babble;

  • imitate their sounds, vocalizations and babbling;

  • teach your baby to imitate actions like peek-a-boo, clapping, blowing kisses, and waving bye-bye;

  • teach animal and environmental sounds during play, when reading books, when out for a walk or when playing at the park;

  • pair gestures with sounds and words;

  • place yourself face-to-face, at eye-level, whenever possible during play, when reading books...;

  • sing songs and nursery rhymes;

  • create language and sound-rich routines;

  • respond to babbling by naming/interpreting the babbling as a word. For example, your child says 'ba-ba'" when she wants her bunny. Respond by saying "Bunny! You said bunny! Here's your bunny!"

  • minimize distractions and competing sounds by turning off screens;

When to consult a speech-language pathologist or your doctor:

  • when your child is not responding to their name by 9 months of age

  • when your child isn't babbling by the 10-month mark

  • when you child is not yet using their first word by 12 months of age

  • when your child is not using gestures such as waving goodbye or raising arms to be picked up by 12 months of age

  • when your child is not playing simple people games such as peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake by 12 months of age.

To Learn More | Sources :

  • Infants later diagnosed with autism have lower canonical babbling ratios in the first year of life, Molecular Autism.

  • Prelinguistic Vocal Development | A clinical Primer, ASHA

  • The Hanen Centre | Baby Babble: A Stepping Stone to Words


To Request a Speech Therapy Consultation:



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