If you’re like most parents, you’re looking forward to your baby’s first words almost as much as you looked forward to his birth. Pay attention: An infant’s first communication starts much earlier than you may think—between the age of 2 months and 4 months.
“One of the first forms of communication is ‘blowing raspberries,’ ” says speech language pathologist Amy Chouinard, M.A., CCC-SLP, a co-author of Let’s Talk Together: Home Activities for Early Speech & Language Development (Talking Child). “It shows the child is experimenting with his mouth, which goes hand in hand with speech development.”
According to Chouinard, not all babies will blow raspberries. Yet those who do “blow bubbles” and display other complex mouth movements like licking their lips tend to pick up language more quickly as toddlers, a recent study found. With that as a backdrop, Chouinard says it’s a good idea to promote language development early on—in a fun, appropriate way, of course.
“Get close to your baby’s face and blow raspberries at him,” she advises. “When you do this, your baby will try to imitate you.” (She points out that infants as young as 8 weeks old will often stick out their tongue in response when a parent does this.) “Get down on the floor with him, play with him, make mouth noises with him,” she adds. “Not only is it incredibly fun for both of you, but you are helping to stimulate your baby’s brainpower at a time when it is just exploding.”
And if you’re concerned that your baby isn’t blowing raspberries or showing other language development, try not to be. “Some children just develop more slowly than others,” Chouinard says. “But if you’re worried, talk with your pediatrician.”