We want children to be vocal and noisy. This is a precursor to using those first words. What sorts of sounds should babies be using?
Babies begin by making lots of babbling, tongue clicking, raspberries and other vocalisations. These noises get more tuneful and longer as the baby gets more practice. They then evolve into more complex sounds like animal sounds and then words.
What types of noises?
- Animal noises
- Vehicle sounds
- Noises for mistakes, accidents, spills (uh oh!)
- Noises for sleeping, drinking, coughing, eating
When children make these sounds and ‘tell’ you things – these are the beginnings of communication. Don’t discount these play sounds! Respond to them as if they were real words. This helps the process along.
Copying / imitation is also important. Copy the child’s sounds. See if they can copy you with some repetition and prompting.
This includes; Blowing raspberries, clicking the tongue, hand over mouth repeatedly and the constant babababa / gagagaga.
What about the cute ‘fake cough’ that some babies will make to get your attention! or the ‘tune’ that sort of sounds a bit like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?
What if my baby is very quiet?
There are so many variations to these baby noises but the one thing they have in common is that they are building blocks for learning to talk. Make no mistake, these noises are not just harmless baby babble. These are the foundation for your baby’s first words.
1. Your baby’s first goal is to be more noisy!
Whatever noises your baby is already making, encourage them! Get your baby to make them more! Copy your baby and see how delighted he is that you did that. Say his favourite noise back and forth to him.
2. Make that noise meaningful.
Use that noise to mean something. Maybe it could be a tongue click for a horse or a raspberry noise for a car?
3. Coughing and Laughing
These are vocal noises that children like to play with too. Copy your baby and see if he copies your laugh or cough or sneeze?
Babies are often very interested in real (and toy) animals. Point at the cat and say meow whilst you stroke it. Feed some plastic farm animals and make some ‘chewing’ noises or ‘slurping’ noises.
When you are pushing your baby on the swing or down the slide or in the sandpit. Listen to your baby’s sounds that signal enjoyment and say them back.
6. New sounds
You might also try to alter your baby’s sounds just a bit. This might help your baby to acquire a new noise.
Take a look at this video of babies imitating a sneeze!
If your toddler is not yet copying words, take a step back and try some Copy Cat games with actions and funny sounds / noises. Lots of young children love Simon Says games and it is a great way to help them ‘have a go‘ at copying sounds. Copying these early noises is a step to learning words.
Use Picture Books!
1. Animal sound Books
- Baby Touch & Feel – Farm Animals by DK. A touchy feely book with one animal per page. Clear photographic images make it ideal for babies. Make the animal noises and see if your child copies you. ” baa, woof, quack”.
- CopyCat Animals. This simple photographic book shows a child on each page dressed up as an animal. The child is doing a simple animal action which can be copied with hand gestures & animal noise. “haha + tongue out (dog), paws up + rah (lion), fingers for whiskers + meow (cat)”
- Noisy Farm by Rod Campbell. It’s morning on the farm and all the animals are waking up. A lift the flap book with different baby animals making noises. “oink, woof, cockadoodle doo.”
- Oh Dear! by Rod Campbell. A little boy looks all over the farm for the eggs. On each page, your child can lift the flap to see if the eggs are there and can shake his head for no or say ‘uh oh’. All the animal sounds are there too – baa, neigh, cheep cheep. “no, uh oh, baa, neigh, cheep cheep.”
- Maisy’s Morning on the Farm . Maisy is feeding all the animals around the farm in turn. They are very hungry and keen to eat their breakfast! You can do animal sounds or also try some slurping or eating noises when feeding animals. ‘eating’ noises, meow, woof, baa”.
2. Car noises books
- Maisy’s Book of Things that Go . This is a pop out and pull the tab book for toddlers. Each page has Maisy on a different vehicle – trains, bikes, hot air balloons. Your child can pull the tabs and make the vehicle noises. “train (choo choo), car (brrmmm), rocket (whoosh!).”
- Lift the Flap – Things that Go – This is quite a busy book with lots of pictures per page and different little flaps to look under. Better for the older toddler interested in vehicles. “nee naw, brmmmm, whoosh.”
- Peekaboo Things that Go – This pop up book has large photographic pictures on each page suitable for younger toddlers. Try making a game of saying the sound as you open the flap! “brrrrrrrm! bang”
- Baby Touch & Feel – Things that Go. This is an early touch and feel book with one picture per page. The toy pictures are a bit more novel for babies who like to feel textures. “brrrrm, beep beep.”
3. Books about Falling down, spilling or accidents
- Uh Oh, I’m sorry . The babies in this book have lots of accidents! Point to the falling block or similar and use your surprised face and hand over them mouth. On each page, your child can try ‘uh oh’ or ‘oh no’ or shake the head. ” uh oh, (shake head)”
- Uh oh, Oh no – This board book has a funny sequence of accidents. First the drink spills on the cat and son on. You can read out the rhyming text or simply point on each page and say ‘oh no!’
4. Peek a Boo books
- Baby Boo! – This series of books has little faces that can be slid out from the side of the book. Keeping babies entertained with pulling out the slider, it encourages a noise each time. There are baby faces or another book has animal faces etc. ‘boo!”
5. Bedtime and sleeping books
- Baby Touch & Feel – Bedtime. An early touch and feel book with all the toys going to bed. On each page, you can put your finger on your mouth and say “sh!, nigh nigh.”
- Good Night Teddy! This cute rag book has a teddy on a string which can be inserted into each page. Ideal for busier toddlers who need a bit more activity during book time. You can make a little noise for each page! “shhhhh (bath time), num num (eating), sh! (sleeping)”
6. Making Funny Faces
These books have lots of images of children making different face movements – happy, sad, silly. Look in the mirror and copy the faces together. Put a sound with it if you like! Excellent for practicing imitation.
- Baby Faces -Your baby can try making the same facial expressions. silly face, happy face etc.
- Funny Face – This cute book has line drawings of a baby. He is doing something different on each page to evoke an emotion. eg ‘scared’ of a bear. There is a mirror at the back to pull silly faces at!
- CopyCat Faces – A clear photo of a child on each page making a face. There is a mirror at the back of the book to use for copying too! A must for any speech pathologist.
7. Other Books
- The Tickle Book – lots of fun anticipating a tickle in this book. There are lots of tabs to pull, sliders and pop outs in this book. It has lots of detail on each page so more suited to older toddlers. There is a ‘tickle monster’ with a feather on each page to look for. You can say ‘tickle’ when you find it. As your toddler gets to know the book, a laugh can be had before the page is turned.
- Animal Actions – A simple board book. There is an animal and an action on each page. Great for copying gestures and animal sounds.
- “sssss (arm moving like a snake), rah! (Gruffalo)”
These books are also great for going onto word copying, once your toddler has got a wider range of sounds and noises. Make it fun and repeat many many times