While you might think that a newborn baby doesn’t communicate, they most certainly do! Cries, smiles, eye contact and cooing are some of the early ways of communication for an infant. Your baby loves to hear the sound of your voice and tries to respond to you - with an attempt to communicate their needs and wants.
What exactly is a coo?
A coo is your baby’s first sound production besides crying which typically occurs between six and eight weeks - of course this might differ from baby to baby. It is a combination of laughter and vowels. A typical coo comprises of sounds like ‘ohhh’ and ‘aah’ which do not require rounding of the lips. It is their way of finding their voice, usually made when they are happy and content. They use the back of their throat muscles to create these sounds. It is an important developmental stage in language acquisition.
Benefits of cooing
- It is an indicator that your baby’s language skills are developing
- They have a way to communicate with you
- It exercises different parts of their mouth, including their lips, palate and tongue.
- Develops different muscles required for talking
- Stimulates their brain
- Gives scope for a back and forth conversation
- Cooing ultimately develops into more complex words like mama and dada
Ways to encourage your baby to coo
Provide your baby with safe objects to mouth, like the teether in the level 2 playkit. Ensure the teether is made of natural, non toxic materials - wooden Neem teethers work well and also strengthens baby’s gums. Mouthing objects helps strengthen their jaw muscles required for language acquisition. Additionally, if your baby is putting their hands in their mouth, do not stop them - this is NOT a bad habit and using mittens hinders this important developmental milestone
2. Eye Contact
Look into your baby’s eyes - research shows that babies tend to be more vocal when they are gazing at an adult. However, be careful not to overwhelm your baby by staring. Read their cues and look at them only for as long as they feel comfortable.
3. Talk to Them
Whether you tell them about your day or narrate a story, a song, a joke or just how much you love them - use a high pitch exaggerated tone and talk to your baby to encourage them to coo. Be sure to face your baby so that they can see your facial expressions too. This is great to do during tummy time as well, you can get down on your tummy too!
KISS stands for ‘Keep it short and sweet’. Remember this mantra to get your baby to coo. Research shows that short sentences, are more likely to get a better response. You do not want to overwhelm your baby, so speak with correct grammar but keep it light!
Once your baby starts to coo, mimic their coos to get them to do it again and repeat it frequently. Your baby will feel like they are having a conversation with you. Remember to pause after you mimic them, giving them some time to coo again.
While trying to get your baby to coo, do not limit communicating with them to just your voice and facial expressions. Throw in hand gestures to grab their attention. If you are familiar with signing, using baby signs along with the spoken words is extremely beneficial.
7. Make it a Familiar Affair
Get the whole family involved and encourage all family members to use the tips mentioned above to get your baby to coo and give them a head start on their language development journey.
As your baby’s language development progresses, they will start making more advanced coos by putting together vowel sounds like ooh aah. Provide your baby with opportunities to hear sounds like a clock ticking, soft music, wind chimes etc and before you know it, they’re cooing will turn into actual words.