This is an exciting time for parents - babies this age make real
progress toward communicating. They'll recognize Mommy and
Daddy, laugh, squeal, and smile spontaneously.
Your baby's personality begins to become evident as he or
she becomes a more active and alert member of your family.
How Babies Communicate
Crying continues to be a baby's primary means of
communication for many months. Aside from letting parents know that
they need something, they might cry when overwhelmed by all of
the sights and sounds of the world. Sometimes babies may cry for no
apparent reason. Try not to get too upset if your baby cries and
you aren't able to console him or her.
Your baby will respond to the sound of your voice by becoming
quiet, smiling, or getting excited and moving his or her arms and
legs. Babies this age begin smiling regularly at mom and dad
but probably won't smile and act friendly with strangers,
though they may warm up to them with coos and body talk.
Babies now discover their ability to vocalize: Soon you'll
have a cooing and gurgling machine! Some babies begin to make some
vowel sounds, like "ah-ah" or "ooh-ooh," at
about 2 months. Your baby will "talk" to you with a
variety of sounds; your baby will also smile at you and wait for
your response, and respond to your smiles with his or her own. Your
baby's arms and legs will move, and his or her hands will open
up. Your baby may even mimic your facial expressions.
What Should I Do?
Your baby loves to hear your voice, so talk, babble, sing, and
coo away during these first few months. Respond enthusiastically to
your baby's sounds and smiles. Tell your baby what he or she is
looking at or doing and what you are doing. Name familiar objects
as you touch them or bring them to your baby.
Read to your baby - even at this tender age, it help in the
development of the growing brain. By listening to you, your baby
will learn the importance of speech before understanding it or
repeating any words.
Take special advantage of your baby's own
"talking" to have a "conversation." If you hear
your baby make a sound, repeat it and wait for him or her to make
another. You are teaching your baby valuable lessons about tone,
pacing, and taking turns when talking to someone else. You are also
sending the message that your baby is important enough to
listen to. Don't interrupt or look away when your baby's
"talking" - show you're interested and that your
little one can trust you.
Babies this age seem to respond best to the female voice - the
one historically associated with comfort and food. That's why
most people will raise the pitch of their voices and exaggerate
their speech when talking to babies. This is fine - studies have
shown that "baby talk" doesn't delay the development
of speech - but feel free to mix in some regular adult words and
tone. It may seem early, but you're setting the stage for your
baby's first word.
Sometimes babies aren't in the mood to talk or vocalize -
even babies need their space and a break from all the stimulation
in the world. Babies might turn away, closes their eyes, or
becomes fussy or irritable. If this happens, let your little
one be, or just try cuddling.
There might be times when you've met all of your baby's
needs, yet he or she continues to cry. Don't despair - your
baby may be overly stimulated, have gastric distress, or may have
too much energy and need a good cry.
It's common for babies to have a fussy period at the same
time every night, generally between early evening and midnight.
This can be upsetting, but the good news is that it's
short-lived; most babies outgrow it around 3 months.
Try to soothe your baby. Some babies are comforted by motion,
such as rocking or being walked back and forth across the room,
while others respond to sounds, like soft music or the hum of a
vacuum cleaner. It may take some time to find out what best
comforts your baby during these stressful periods.
If You're Concerned
Talk to your doctor if your baby seems to cry for an unusual
length of time or if the cries sound odd to you. Your doctor will
be able to reassure you or look for a medical reason for your
baby's distress. Chances are there is nothing wrong, and
knowing this can help you relax and stay calm when your baby is
Babies usually reach these communication milestones during
- pay attention to new faces and surroundings
- respond to loud noises
- smile at the sound of a parent's voice
- smile at other people by 3 months
- coo consistently by 3 or 4 months
Keep in mind that babies communicate at different rates, just as
they mature physically at different rates. There is usually no
cause for concern, but talk to your doctor if your baby misses any
of these milestones.
Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: July 2008
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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