The Importance of Babbling

BabblingWhat is babbling?

Babbling is an important ‘pre-linguistic skill’ and key marker of speech and language development. Child research studies classify a baby’s sound productions into two categories: involuntary (or, reflexive) sounds and voluntary sounds.

Infants produce involuntary sounds in the way of burps, coughs, grunts, and sighs within the first 2 months of life. Then, between 1 to 4 months, babies begin engaging in cooing and laughter – often while interacting with their caregiver. Between 4 and 6 months of age, babies continue to produce sweet squeals and coos, an initial stage referred to as ‘marginal babbling’ or, ‘pre-canonical babbling’.

At approximately 6 months of age, babies begin creating longer sounds with more variation. This next stage is referred to as ‘canonical babbling’ and is divided into reduplicated babbling and non-reduplicated babbling.  Reduplicated babbling takes place when babies repeat the same syllable (e.g. “ba ba ba”). Non-reduplicated babbling refers to the production of different sound combinations and syllables (e.g. “maga baboba”).

At approximately 9 months of age, babies enter a stage referred to as ‘conversational babbling’ (or, jargon) which includes pauses, turn-taking, rhythm, and intonation. It closely resembles an adult conversation – a ‘pseudo-dialogue’, if you will, but without words! This stage often overlaps with a child’s first word.

What should I do if my child is not babbling?

There is evidence to suggest that canonical babbling (reduplicated and non-reduplicated) is an important precursor to later language development.  If your baby is not producing age-appropriate babbling, then it may indicate a larger issue such as a hearing loss, speech and language delay, or learning disability.  However, this is not always the case as some babies babble at later stages than expected. If you have any concerns, consult with your pediatrician and contact us.

Baby Talk Fact #1

Children often produce ‘raspberries’ between 4 to 6 months of age.  Speech-language pathologists refer to raspberries as ‘bilabial trills’ or ‘bilabial fricative’.

Baby Talk Fact #2

Babies ALL OVER THE WORLD follow a similar pattern in babbling.  And, by 12-16 months of age begin to shape these babbles into words of their native tongue.



Bass-Ringdahl, S. (2010). The relationship of audibility and the development of canonical babbling in young children with hearing. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 15 (3), 287-312.

Bauman-Waengler, J. (2008). Articulatory and Phonological Impairments A Clinical Focus – Third Edition. United States: Pearson Inc.

Iyer, S. & Oller, D. (2008). Prelinguistic vocal development in infants with typical hearing and infants with severe-to-profound hearing loss. The Volta Review, 108 (2), 115-138.

Oller, D., Eilers, R., Neal, A. R., & Schwartz, H. K. (1999). Precursors to speech in infancy: The prediction of speech and language disorders. Journal of Communication Disorders, 32 (222-245).

What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication?

AAC - Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (or, AAC) is used to help support people who have speech or communication difficulties. The term ‘AAC’ refers to devices that range from simple, low tech systems (e.g. picture pointing systems or yes/no response boards) to those that are more complex (e.g. customized and computerized speech generating devices).  The type of AAC device that is prescribed will depend on the needs of the person using it.

Who uses AAC?

Many people of all ages, with various communication needs, and different backgrounds use AAC to help them communicate. Individuals with acquired brain injuries, developmental delays, spectrum disorder, visual and physical challenges (to name a few) successfully use AAC devices on a daily basis.

Common Myths/Questions about AAC:

  • People who use AAC will never speak
    Depending on the person and his/her abilities, both speech and AAC development may be a continued focus. AAC can be thought of as a “tool” that can aid in speech development, not a hindrance.
  • Can’t I just buy an iPad?
    There are many AAC devices that are specifically designed for AAC. IPads can be beneficial in some circumstances, but it is important to remember that they are not appropriate for every AAC need.Many people have purchased an iPad assuming it will meet the person’s communication needs only to discover that it collects dust or is used for an alternative purpose, such as games. The introduction of any AAC device requires training, programming, maintenance, and in some cases modifications, by a knowledgeable professional.
  • How do I talk to someone with AAC?
    Simply stated: Include them! Offer appropriate eye contact, smile and direct questions, and involve them in the conversation.Be sure to ask more than just yes/no questions!  Limiting questions to only yes/no answers, limits responses.  People using AAC have thoughts, opinions, comments, and a desire to express them.Be patient! Using AAC can require extra time to compose and communicate messages. Many AAC users experience abbreviated conversations because people don’t have time to listen.  Be patient – you will likely find yourself pleasantly surprised by their contribution.

If you have further questions about AAC or AAC devices, contact us 🙂


ASHA (2014). Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Retrieved from

Beukelman, D. & Mirenda, P. (2013). Augmentative and alternative communication: Supporting children and adults with complex communication needs (4th ed.). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Romski, M. A. & Sevcik, R. A. (1996). Breaking the speechbarrier: Language development through augmented means.Baltimore: Brookes.

Millar, D., Light, J. & Schlosser, R. (2006). The Impact of Augmentativeand Alternative Communication Intervention on the Speech Productionof Individuals With Developmental Disabilities: A Research Review. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 49, 248–264.

Having Fun with Phonological Awareness!

Phonological Awareness

One of the most exciting times in our children’s lives is when they are beginning to read.  We know that there is a wealth of knowledge that awaits them as they begin to understand the written word, and eventually transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”.

One of the first steps in the reading process is to develop the fundamental literacy skills known collectively as phonological awareness. 

Continue reading Having Fun with Phonological Awareness!

Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

Treatment for Parkinson's Disease

We wish to extend our sincere thanks and well wishes to The Parkinson Society (Barrie Chapter – Support Group) for inviting us to speak this month. Thank you all for braving the cold!

For those of you who may have missed our presentation, our speech language pathologists provided information on the recognition and management of swallowing disorders, as well as the delivery of speech, voice and communication therapy.  Members of the group also participated in a demonstration of the Lee Silverman Program, a therapy approach designed to treat voice disorders in individuals with PD.  Well done everyone!

As a closing note, never underestimate the benefits of reading aloud, even for a few minutes each day! Make a conscious effort to assume an upright posture, over-articulate your speech sounds, and project your voice as you read. This seemingly small exercise works toward building your breath control and the muscles involved in speaking. Looking for added challenge? Read aloud with background music, or try to increase your reading time.  A little practice goes a long way!

Until our next blog, think BIG!

Welcome to Henninger Speech and Language Centre!

Welcome to our new Henninger Speech and Language Centre website! This is our first ever blog post, and we look forward to sharing interesting updates to assist you or your loved one every single month!

We strongly believe that communication is key to maximizing the quality of our lives. Our goal is to make a positive difference in each person that comes to our clinic.  By sharing our insight on this blog, we hope to reach out to as many people as possible.

Until then, keep checking back for further updates. You can also follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for more updates.