Find out when babies start to coo for the first time, plus learn how to encourage your baby to make these super sweet sounds.
Apart from a baby’s first cry, cooing is one of the most magical sounds. It’s one of baby’s first milestones, after all. But when do babies start cooing for the first time? We’ve got the scoop.
In this post, we’ll cover:
What is Cooing?
Apart from crying, cooing is the first vocal milestone your baby will reach. Cooing is typically a vowel sound, like ahh, but sometimes cooing can sound like gurgling noises. It’s absolutely adorable, but it’s also really important: It signifies baby is starting to work on language development.
Listen to these three videos to see how cooing can vary from baby to baby:
This cooing baby makes the ahh sound, as well as a few soft squeaky noises.
This baby is cooing, but she makes an ohhh sound instead of ahhh.
This video shows a baby who makes more of a gurgling coo.
When Do Babies Start Cooing?
Babies typically begin to coo around six to eight weeks of age. But cooing, like all milestones, can vary from baby to baby. If your little one isn’t cooing right at six weeks, don’t worry. All babies develop on their own schedule.
Remember that some babies may not make the “ahhh” cooing sound; they just gurgle instead. However, if your baby is three months old and still not cooing, you can assuage any concerns by talking with your baby’s pediatrician.
If baby isn’t cooing at all, it could be linked to a hearing problem, but this is rare. If you’re worried, you should make an appointment with your child’s doctor to rule it out. In the meantime, you can check your baby’s hearing at home to ease your nerves. When your baby is awake and alert, clap loudly. Does your baby turn to follow the sound? If so, your baby probably doesn’t have hearing problems. (source) Again, always check in with your pediatrician to confirm.
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How to Encourage Babies to Start Cooing
Once you hear those first few coos, it’s infectious, and you’ll want to hear more and more. Here’s the good news: There are several ways to encourage your baby to coo and develop those language skills.
Talk to your baby
Talking—even in “baby talk”—to your baby is essential for language development. In fact, speaking in high-pitched tones (called “motherese”) to your baby helps them learn to coo, because those high-pitches and sing-song sounds highlight vowel sounds like ahhh and ohhh. (source)
Although baby coos may not sound like much like a fully-formed word to you yet, Michael H. Goldstein, an assistant professor of psychology at Cornell, says responding to your baby’s sounds provides encouragement and helps her learn new sounds and sound patterns.
Talking to your baby also gives your baby the perfect opportunity to mimic you. A study from PLOS ONE reveals that babies and toddlers actually learn new skills simply by imitating an adult. (source)
Speak clearly and often
It’s important to speak clearly, annunciate, and elaborate on what you’re seeing or doing. Remember that babies understand words long before they can ever utter one word. Speaking clearly not only helps babies to learn words, but also essential sound combinations.
- Narrate what you are doing: “Mommy is putting milk in the grocery cart” or “Mommy is going to put you in the wrap and then we will walk Fido around the block” or “Let’s make a snack for your big brother. Mommy is going cut up the carrots.”
- Don’t be afraid to use “real” words: Instead of saying “nigh nigh,” tell your baby “goodnight!”
Make eye contact and repeat sounds back
Whether your baby coos with ahhh sounds or ohhhh sounds, repeat those sounds back to your baby. Make eye contact to help your baby focus on you. Repeating the same sound over and over helps your baby learn to vocalize that sound. Interestingly, this is the same principle that explains why babies and toddlers have an easier time remembering words that repeat e.g. night night or choo choo. (source)
Mamas know that lullabies can help a baby or toddler drift off to sleep, but music can also help encourage cooing. According to researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, music helps babies process the sounds they hear.
And here’s the best part: You don’t need to stick to lullabies. You can sing your favorite songs, too. But if you need some inspiration, try these songs:
- “Baby Shark” (Of course! All those doo-doo’s will help babies learn vowel sounds!)
- “Down By the Bay”
- “This Old Man”
- “Froggy Went A-Courtin'”
- “The Farmer in the Dell”
- “Irish Lullaby: Too-Raa-Loo-Raa-Loo-Rah”
- “Baby Mine”
- “Wild Mountain Thyme”
- “Scarborough Faire”
- “The Bear Necessities”
- “Here Comes the Sun”
- “This Land Is Your Land”
- “Six Little Ducks”
- “Mary Had a Little Lamb”
- “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”
- “You Are My Sunshine”
Need a quick YouTube playlist? Check out Little Baby Bum!
Cuddling up with a book is not only a cozy experience, it also allows your baby the opportunity to hear new sounds. And it’s never too early to get started (even if it seems like they aren’t paying attention). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, reading to a six-month-old baby has been linked to improved language development and increased vocabulary—even four years later. (source)
In fact, the AAP recommends that parents starting reading a book a day to child starting at birth! (source)
Need a few book suggestions? Add these books to your baby’s library!
Get out of the house and explore the world around you
Exploring the world isn’t just fun; it can help your baby develop more language skills. Imagine this scenario:
Your baby is wrapped snugly in your baby carrier as you walk through your city zoo. As you reach new exhibits, you spend a minute or two talking your baby. You might say, “Here’s the lion” or “Look at all of these parrots.” This interaction is just another opportunity for your baby to hear sounds of your native tongue over and over again. And, remember, repetition is key!
No matter where you go—the library, the grocery store, the post office—narrate your day to your baby. The more he hears, the more he learns.
What Comes Next?
It might seem futile or even exhausting to practice all of the above language tips with a newborn (who sleeps the majority of the day), but you’d be surprised just how much those little babies absorb. You’re laying foundation for when cooing gives way to babbling, around four to six months old.