8 month old blows raspberries in place of babbling

Hi! My 8 month old daughter is not babbling. She did babble for about a week or so a few months ago. She seemed to really only do it when she had a teether toy in her mouth and she was laying independently on her play mat. But then she stopped. She will randomly do it every so often, but it is not a lot and not consistent. She has been blowing raspberries for awhile now, and has started doing it in a way where it seems like she is using it to communicate with us. It is SO much saliva everywhere!! Lol! :wink: We imitate her sounds and raspberries to try to encourage her to continue making them. However, when I try to babble to her (ie, “mama” “baba” or “dada”) she will not make the sound back to me. Sometimes she’ll just stare at me and other times she’ll blow raspberries back. She whines/fusses/cries/grunts when she is upset. But other than that she doesn’t seem to make any other verbal sounds using her voice. We had her evaluated with a speech pathologist about a month ago (through video chat because of Covid) and her receptive language was fine and her verbal language fell within normal range, but on the low end. So missed qualifying for speech therapy by a few points.
She has always been a hard audience and you have to work to get her to actually laugh. She’ll smile a lot, but she doesn’t actually make laughing sounds unless she thinks something is really really funny. lol. Also, not sure if it matters, but she did have a tongue tie fixed by a pediatric dentist with a laser when she was 7 days old.
So, 2 questions:

  1. Is blowing raspberries a precursor to babbling?
  2. Besides modeling, imitating, pointing and saying what something is, speaking slowly, sign language, and repeating repeating repeating, is there anything else I can do?? I feel like I’ve been doing all of that and she’s just not really making any progress in babbling.
    Thanks so much!

This is such a great question! Hopefully some of the speech therapists or other knowledgable parents in our community can help out. @Speechie.Morgan @Twowayspeech @MamaSLP @AlyssaLevySLP @MissNinaSpeaks

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You are doing a great job. Definitely keep modeling, imitating, pointing, etc… Now let me see if I can provide more information.

Typically between 4-6 months a baby is exploring and expanding with their speech skills. This means they are gaining breath and articulatory control during vocal play. You may hear squeals, growls, yells, raspberries, and start hearing /p/ /b/ /m/. However, the vocalizations may vary daily. They will also have stronger productions of vowels and will begin to hear Vowel Consonant (up) and Consonant Vowel (ma) productions.

By 7-9 months you will start hearing some Consonant Vowels and some babbling of the same syllable (mama).

  1. Yes raspberries are a precursor to babbling because she is using vocal play. While making a raspberry the child is just taking the air from their belly and blowing it out with a closed mouth. Typically a first Consonant Vowel sequence is a one where the jaw moves up and down like /ba/ or /up/. It sounds like the coordination between blowing out and also moving her jaw is still emerging.

  2. Continue doing what you are doing. I also want you to think about not just babbling but what type of sounds do you hear? Do you hear her make some vowel sounds? Can she vocalize for longer and shorter durations of time (hold out a sound)?

Some things you can also do include:

  1. Play whole body imitation games like peek a boo, pat-e-cake to work on imitation when there is not the pressure of vocalizing.
  2. Make environmental sounds while playing. The vocalization should sound like a vowel sound for example oo for choo choo train, ee, for firetruck, woo woo for dog, baaaa for sheep, oi oi, pig.
  3. Use a cup/box/container/echo microphone/toilet paper roll. You have one and she has one. Make vocalizations into the roll to practice the breath support. (ex. ahhhhh)
  4. Bring toys up to your mouth and make sure she is looking at your mouth while talking.

Hopefully this helps. Also, many times in the first year babies are either working on a gross motor skill or a speech skill. If she is working hard to master a gross motor skill right now that may be what her brain is focused on.

Try these things and follow up with an SLP if you are not seeing any progress.

Good Luck!!!
-Janice M.A. CCC-SLP

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Thank you so much for all the ideas! So helpful!! :slight_smile: She does make a sound sometimes after blowing raspberries that kind of sounds like blah. Lol. Honestly, it seems like the only time she really vocalizes is right before bed or nap when I’m holding her and she’s laying her head on my shoulder before I lay her down. I’m always like, why do you choose now to talk when I can’t talk back to you because I want you to go to sleep?!?!?! Lol! And I’ve heard the thing about how they are either working on a gross motor skill or language skill and I do think she is focusing more on gross motor skills because she is basically crawling (slowly) now and pulling to stand and all that. So maybe that’s just what her brain is focusing on currently. Thanks again for all the advice! I really appreciate it! :slight_smile:

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Has anyone recommended having your daughter’s hearing tested?
Some hearing losses are not apparent without testing by an audiologist, but a few things you said made me wonder if that could be a factor.
-Children with hearing loss tend to meet the same babbling milestones as their peers until about 5-6 months old. At this point, they not only stop making the progress in babbling that their peers are, but they may stop doing some babbling that they were previously using.
-children with hearing lossbare most responsive and interested in tactile vocalizations. This means they are more chatty when they are in tactile contact with you while you are taking to them (particularly if they are on your chest which acts as a resonance and vibration chamber). They tend to prefer to make noises that give them tactile feedback or are visually apparent on another person (raspberries, growls, grunts, and yells).

If you found out with an audiologist that she had a hearing loss, most if not all states will use that diagnosis as a qualification for early intervention even if she is still testing in the average range.

Some insurances require a referral from a pediatrician or ENT for families to see an audiologist. I highly recommend that as you look for an audiologist you ask what percentage of the audiologist’s clients are pediatric. If they say anything less than 50% it is worth the time to find an audiologist who works with more children. The procedures and testing are dramatically different from children to adults.

Lauren Smith, M.Ed
Special Educator specializing in children with hearing loss

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