When Will My Baby Blow Raspberries?
Some milestones, such as sitting up, crawling and walking, seem hugely significant to us, but others seem to happen without us noticing. We might be hugely entertained by something our baby is doing but not realise what role these actions are playing as part of our baby's development. The wonderful world of raspberry blowing is just one example of these. Let's face it; it's funny to see our baby blowing raspberries, but did you know that this is actually all part of your baby learning to talk?
The Road To Raspberry Blowing
Although you can expect to see your baby practising raspberry blowing at around five months of age, the foundations for this will have been laid in milestones achieved in the previous months. Essentially, blowing bubbles is all part and parcel of your baby's road to language development, but they have been communicating with you since the moment they were born. Crying, that part of babyhood that can so often have many of us pulling our hair out, is actually your baby's only way of getting your attention. As your baby starts to develop control of the muscles necessary to make a range of other noises, you'll notice things like cooing and gurgling becoming a feature of their repertoire.
At around five months, you may then start to see your baby blowing raspberries. This is very funny to watch, but more importantly, it is a very significant development and a precursor to language skills. Your baby starts to make some very strange noises and probably looks like they are concentrating really hard as they're doing it. You may think they are just trying to entertain you but they are not; that's just a fantastic by-product. They are actually trying to develop control of their tongue, lips and cheeks, all at the same time and this is essential in developing the muscle control and co-ordination needed to develop speech later on. Other early signs of language development at this age might include babbling - making lots of different noises as if in conversation. In particular you might notice the sounds for p, b and m within this.
How You Can Encourage It
The great thing about raspberry blowing is that, on the whole, it is very funny and likely to illicit from you and anyone else around a great reaction. Your baby will love this two-way communication. They'll feel an amazing sense of achievement when they manage to prompt this response and this in turn will encourage them to try again and again. All the while they are developing their control even further.
Many of us begin talking to our baby even before they are born. Certainly after our baby is born, most of us naturally chat to our baby as we go about our daily routine. Sometimes it can feel a little silly jabbering along to your baby whilst out and about but don't be embarrassed. This interaction is the ideal way to encourage your baby's language development. When your baby makes noises, respond in a similar manner. In this way your baby is learning about communication, taking turns to speak and intonation. You will probably find that you naturally exaggerate sounds and tone as you speak, which most of us would recognise as 'baby speak'. Although this 'baby speak' is the stuff of comedy, it is actually very useful for your baby's development. They will not understand the meaning of your words but will certainly recognise changes in tone and the rhythm of speech.
Another way to foster language development as your baby grows is to share story time together. Even from birth, this is another way to spend quality time, 'chatting' with each other. Use lots of intonation and do respond to any noises they make as if you were having a conversation together.
What Comes Next?
As your baby continues on the road to mastering talking, between seven months to a year old, you'll notice that they will then start to group simple sounds together and have an understanding of what those words are naming. The obvious ones and the ones we all love to hear for the very first time are 'mama' and 'dada'.
Many children start making their first real words around the twelve-month mark, but language acquisition is definitely one of the major milestones that can vary immensely from child to child. All babies develop at very different rates and if your baby hasn't reached the same milestones as other people's babies the chances are there is nothing to worry about. However, if you are concerned that your child is very late in reaching one or a number of milestones then it is sensible to seek further professional advice from either your health visitor or GP. We have more information on the variable rates of development in babies here.